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Break It Down or Not Break It Down: That Is The Question? Article Owerwiew​

Taken on April 25, 2008 by Nathan Rupert

To this day we still don’t fully understand the nature of the human movement. Some movements come to us naturally while others take years of practice to master. For some individuals learning even the simplest skills such as brushing the teeth can be challenging. There are many factors that determine whether or not individuals is going to be successful in acquirements of certain skills. As a practitioner, it is very important to understand the nature of the skill in order to teach. We must understand the relationship between learner, environment, and the task in order to design the best learning experience for our students.

Motor learning one of the most interesting I have taken as an undergraduate. I was also fortunate to have Dr. Cheryl A. Coker she has been an amazing teacher and mentor who is an author of numerous publications including the textbook Motor Learning and Control for Practitioners which we used in the class. In the paper Break It Down or Not Break It Down: That Is The Question? Dr. Coker explores this question. She suggests that when some complex skills should be broken down into smaller components (practiced in parts or whole) in order to facilitate learning others should not be. We can determine this by analyzing the nature of the skill which consists of two variables complexity, and organization.

Complexity refers to the number of key components and the amount of thought that is required in order to successfully execute the skill. Task organization refers to how much are these components are interdependent on one another. Skills that have low organization meaning that the parts of the skill do not influence one another and high in complexity would benefit the learner to be broken down into parts. Furthermore, it remains unclear which approach is best when teaching the skills that are high or low in both of these variables. In this scenario, the practitioner must make the call whether part practice or whole practice is the best choice to teach the skill.  

As a figure skater myself and someone who has been coaching for many years, I did not think of the concept too deeply. Figure skating is a sport that requires thousands of different skills that vary in complexity as well as organization. Often I have made decisions on how and whether or not break down the in order to reteach it. From this article, I learned that I must carefully analyze both of these variables in order to make a better decision and form our own methods to facilitate most proficient learning. 

What is Functional Movement Screening?

Taken on September 22, 2010

 Over the past 4 weeks of the semester, I participated in Functional Movement Screening assessment where we matched up with the first year students from the Plymouth State Universities new developed Physical Therapy program.  Functional Movement Screening test is designed to provide the practitioner with the assessment of individuals functional health. This screaming takes individuals through the exercises which test total range of motion to establish Range Of Motion (ROM) limits. This test involves assessments of 7 different movements, reinked on scale of 1 to 3 scoring system, which tells the practitioner about individuals capacities of their functional movement. However, It does not diagnose any orthopedic injuries. These 7 movements I preformed are: Deep Squad, Hurdle Step, Incline Lunge, Shoulder Mobility, Active Straight Leg Raise, Truck Stability Push Up, Rotary Stability. I think FMS can be helpfulto asses athletes inequalities in ROM due to dominancy of right or left side based on execution of sport specific skills for prolonged period of time. I find it a great tool and in near future am planning on getting level 1 FMS certification myself so that I can use it in my practice. 

Teens Health and Technology, Study Overview

April 24, 2012; A Health Bloog

In my Exercises and Health Psychology class, I came across this really interesting study Teens Health and Technology which investigates how and where teens access information regarding their health. With the advance in technology new generation is constantly using the Internet and mobile devises to access all sorts of information, the study reports that 70% of youth from ages 13 – 17 own smartphones. So, it is not a surprise to see teens to seek out the health-related questions online. In this study, they conducted a survey on adolescents health information-seeking. They found that adolescents choose Google as a preferred search engine, and they choose one out of the first nine search result without searching any further. This “survey covered the types of health topics teens most frequently search for, which technologies they are most likely to use, and how they use them, and whether they report having changed their behaviors due to digital health information” ( Wartella et.al., 2014). They concluded that teens 84% of teens reported having received health information online during their lifetime. 25% who said they have received “a lot” of health information online, 36% who get “some” and 22% who get “only a little”. They also show that 55% get a lot of information from their parents, 33% reporting that they get “some” health information from their parents. 29% of teens also reported getting “a lot” and 40% reported getting “some” health information from doctors and nurses. (Wartella et.al., 2014) There are a lot of unreliable sources out there and since parents are most turned to source for adolescents it is important that they provide them with proper knowledge about the dangers of surfing the web. 

PLN Porfolio ​

Networking is one of the biggest parts of our society today. The Internet has become something we depend on in many ways. It has made flinging information about anything we may need very easy. It has become an essential part for the company and businesses to have some kind of presence online in order to reach the clientele and promote their services. With the advance in technology smartphones have smartphones have become an essential part of our existence. With the help of mobile devices, we are able to surf the web at any place anywhere. Our cell phones are essentially an extension of our hand, we always have it on us because it connects us to the rest of the world. In recent years social media has changed the way we communicate, share and access information. Presence on social media has become a necessary part of building a successful business because almost every individual engages in some type of social media platform. And I have used it as my Personal Learning Network. As my main social media platforms, I use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. By suggestion of one of my professors recently I signed up for ResearchGate which I find very useful! There I started following all of my professors as well as my peers. On research gate, I can share my own research, engage in learning and look at all the current research publications from my teachers, peers and researchers all over the world. Health and human performance field are constantly developing and it is important to keep up to date. I also have been using Twitter to interesting articles and use it to read up on most current as well as developing research twitted by the professionals in my field of interest.  For example, Brad Schoenfeld who is a researcher and educator on muscle building and fat loss. Author: “The MAX Muscle Plan” & “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy.” Twitted about his most recent study “Does Training to Failure Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy?” which examines the research claims done in the past, and draw conclusions on evidence-based practical implications for hypertrophy training. I think twitter is a great resource to find professionals across all fields of interest, and I have been using to share interesting articles such as the one I mentioned above, and here you can find some of the other useful tweets that I found along the way. Personal learning network has helped to stay connected with my peers and with its help I will be able to stay in touch with everyone to keep expanding my knowledge in the future.  

 

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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Senior Research Article

Risks that lead to pathological eating habits and Eating Disorders, in sports where body image is emphasized

In pursuit of excellence and improvement in performance athletes also have to take risks and make a lot of sacrifices, overcome pains and aches, having to be “tough” and competitive. It is important for athletes to have support from their team to take all the necessary precautions to prepare the athlete, in order to minimize these risks and promote the safest environment possible.

As an professional athlete for over 15 years some of the hardest competitions were to overcome myself in pursuit of this excellence. As an elite figure skater I was exposed to an unhealthy sporting environment at a very young age. Risks are a part of the sports, taking these  risks and pursuing  this excellence makes sports very demanding physically, as well as mentally. Some athletes go to extreme measures in order to excel, and it is considered one of the qualities of a “good” athlete. In order to become the “best”, athletes tend to put themselves at the risk of various accidental, as well overuse injuries associated with the sports. In addition, recent years, risk of development of eating disorders became one the big concerns in sports (Currie, Morse, 2005). Most of the current literature suggests that both genders are affected by this issue, however, females are the higher risks than males. Also pathological eating behaviors occur at the higher frequency in sports that emphasize lean figure and where athletes have to fit certain weight category, sports such as figure skating, gymnastics, wrestling and so on (Thompson, Sherman, 2014). 

Taken on January 25, 2009 by Anna Li

In pursue of carrier as an elite Figure Skating I learned all about the sacrifices and risks early on. My mother and I had to leave my country and move to Moscow when I was 8 for me persuade the sport. Before I moved away my parents had me and my brother engaged in multiple sports. So I could say I begun sports specific training and was involved only in figure skating since I was nine. At eleven years old I started training with older girls, and became exposed to dieting, and association of the lighter weight with the improvement of performance.

In sports such as figure skating and gymnastics are considered a “young sport” meaning that athletes have to begin sport specific training at a very young age in order to keep up with the competition. Research shows that in sports such as diving, gymnastics, figure skating and ballet female athletes, are at greater risks because leanness is highly associated with the sport. There is big pressure to fit the stereotype of the lean body types which are promoted by coaches and judges as well as the media;

“intense pressures to conform to the sport’s aesthetic ideal, coupled with traditional societal pressures regarding female weight and body shape, could cause skaters to alter their eating and exercise patterns in unhealthful directions” (Dwyer et.al., 2012) 

We have to look a certain way, based on the weight, dress and make up, in order to be accepted and taken seriously, and it becomes really easy to fall into the loop of unhealthy behavior patterns. The coaches I worked with as an adolescent had autocratic “do as I say” style of coaching which was the most common way of coaching at the time. Coaches just told girls they needed to lose weight quickly, and in order to stay the “ideal weight” we weren’t allowed to eat any sweets, baked goods, pastries, and to eat in small amounts but nothing past 6 pm every day. The most potent way to lose weight as they said[ was to just “close our mouth” which meant don’t eat or skip a meal. A lot of time has passed and thing are not the same as they used to be many years a go when I was young. I am not by any means saying that all of the coaches I worked with were the same way! Later on in my carrier I was fortunate enough to having to worke with some of amazing coaches who did everything they could to supported me. However, it still happens.

Since I was 12, I was put on many diets to prevent me from gaining weight. Several of my coaches told my mother to just stop feeding me, and to feed me a certain way to manage my weight without providing her with safe directions on how to do it. In a cross sectional study, Eating Attitudes And Food Intake of Elite Adolescent Female Figure Skaters: Dwyer et.alreport that elite adolescent figure skaters practice vigorously 27 – 33 hours per week with additional 6 hours of off-ice training, stretching, dancing and so on. In order to accommodate the adolescents’ growth as well as intense training athletes must match the caloric intake to both factors in order to reach potential for best performance. Hence, adolescents are facing a challenge in trying to consume a sufficient amount of calories. In this study they calculated required amounts of calories needed based on athletes’ individual requisite, and physical activity levels. Results reported that skaters had caloric deficits that range from -170, to – 2026 kcal/day on average (Dwyer et.al., 2012).  My mother listened to my coaches who didn’t have enough knowledge about weight management, especially for adolescent athletes who are intensely training and well as growing.

Proper weight management is way more complicated and requires specific knowledge from multiple professionals specializing in sports nutrition as well as strength and conditioning (Haff and Triplett, 2016, p.g. 220). In the article “The Female Athlete: Energy and Nutrition Issues” author Melinda M. Manore argues that female athletes are commonly associated with nutritional issues which are caused by inadequate energy intake and expenditure to fit the demands of the sport. Manore supports her claim by providing scientifically based information about the quantities of caloric intake that female athletes must be consuming in order to match the energy expenditure. They identify that raising athletes’ awareness about their caloric needs and consulting with qualified professionals to establish nutrition plans which are best suited for each athlete can help prevent development of nutritional issues (Manore, 2017). I never knew how many calories I was supposed to eating to lose weight safely. On average I was practicing 5 to 6 hours a day and eating about 1,200 – 1,500 calories a day. Coaches would weigh us multiple times throughout the week, some of us whom they considered have “weight issues” or keep a lower “ideal weight” would have to weigh every day. They would also weigh us randomly based on our practice. If we performed poorly in the practice, they would weigh us, assuming that it was because we ate too much. If we happened to be more than what they thought we should be they would blame our outcomes during practice on our weight. Coaches would tell us to lose the weight, and sometimes even add an extra practice.

Coaches thought that eating less would implore our performance, but the scientific truth is that in reality consuming insufficient amount of nutrients during intense training can hurt athletes more. “Diet affects performance and the foods that we choose in training and competition will affect how well we train and compete” (Maughan and Burke 2010, 2012).  Maughan and Burke propose this to inform athletes who are training at the elite level to fuel properly in order to achieve the most optimal gains and minimize chances of injuries and other health problems associated with nutrition (Maughan and Burke 2010,2012). At age 12, I was already interested in dieting and nutrition. If I was old enough to do learn about different diets and ways to lose weight it means I was also old enough to learn the basics about my body and what happens with food after I ingest it. All I knew was that “you eat and then you poop” and if I ate foods such as; chocolate candy bars, this food would make me fat.

Whenever I did eat foods that I was told would make me “fat” made me feel guilty. In my head, I was taking away from my performance, and so I started to look at food as an enemy and started hating my body because it was so easy to get “fat” and so hard to lose the weight. Multiple studies, as well as the textbooks, suggests that adolescent athletes are underdeveloped mentally, highly impressionable, and fail to consider risks. During puberty, there are all sorts of changes that go on in the body. At this stage, the body changes so drastically, and sometimes these changes are against the sport. This is why starting sport specific training when athletes are not fully grown is one of the factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders (Ex Phys textbook, Currie and Morse, Borgen). 

Summer 2006: Me and my training mate at the time Veronika Kropotina at the end of the training day

In competition Figure Skaters are ranked by one total score, which consists of two separate scores for the execution of individual scores. “Technical score” for individual elements such as jumps and spins, and “component score” for artistry and presentation, meaning the skating skills (edginess and speed) and how well we complete the character of the choreographed program with our look and the emotional connection audience. So as you can imagine, for me looks became a part of the sport since the very beginning. At the age of thirteen I improved very fast, and started competing internationally representing the Republic of Georgia against girls up to the age of nineteen. I won my first international medal (bronze) at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) followed with a gold medal in my second JGP event. At thirteen I became the first figure skater from Georgia to win medals and qualify for Junior Grand Prix final. At fifteen I qualified for my first Olympic games in Torino 2006, and with my 6th place after the Short Program and 10th place overall, I became the best winter Olympic athlete my country had ever produced (male or female). 

Taken in September 2005 – My first international bronze medal

By winning my first bronze medal in European Championships in 2010, I also became the first Georgian figure skater to ever win medals in International Skating Union (ISU) championships in any discipline (female or male, dance, and pairs), to this day I remain one.

2010 European Championships by David W. Carmichael; my first Europian bronze

After achieving such results the President of Georgia Michael Saakashvili personally awarded me the Medal of Honor at the age of sixteen. I am the only person to receive such an honorable award at such a young age in the history of my country.

As you can imagine I became very well known in my country and still am to this day. People started to recognize me on the streets, and pretty much everyone knew my last name. This put enormous psychological pressure on my shoulders, in addition to the pressure of staying “ideal figure skater weight” to fit the stereotype and neither I nor my mother knew how to deal with it. Dealing with these pressures in addition to intense training comes at a certain expense. This pressure of being on a public eye in the sport and fitting into a certain image had led me to develop pathological eating behaviors. All though I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder I did have most of the symptoms. 

In order to meet this “ideal weight” that is associated with sport, athletes engage in potential health treating behaviors to lose weight as quickly as they can. These techniques include: 

“fasting, fad diets, voluntary dehydration (diuretics, sauna, water and salt manipulation, wearing multiple layers of clothing), excessive spitting, self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretics, and inappropriate or excessive use of thermogenic aids and excessiveexercises”(Haff, Triplett, 2016, p. g 220)(Coelho, et.al., 2014). 

Although these ways are not categorized as clinically diagnosed Eating Disorders, these are considered extreme unnatural measures of weight management. For example I have seen athletes who severely dehydrate themselves in order to lose weight. Severe Dehydration in addition to high intensity exercises is extremely dangerous, and can cause Cardiovascular Shock or Insult. “Cardiovascular Insult occurs when the body becomes dehydrated plunging it into a state of shock” (Amaro and Richel).  In review study Prevention Of Eating Disorders in Female Athletes, authors associate these habits with even higher risks that lead to development of clinically diagnosed Eating Disorders. This means that athletes could be having some of the symptoms but not all, to strictly fit the criteria of EDs. These weight management habits that range from presence of some or most symptoms of clinically diagnosed Eating Disorders are classified as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

DAVE SANDFORD, GETTY IMAGES  03.14.2013

Athletes who begin to engage in any pathological eating habits are putting their health, as well as performance, in big jeopardy. Authors suggest that recognizing risks and signs on early stages as well as regulatory screening questionnaires can be helpful in order to prevent athletes reach the clinical level (Coelho, et.al., 2014). It is true that athletes’ body composition plays a critical role in sports since each sport has a certain criteria of athletes proportions’ which is associated with optimal performance; it could be a 6’8”, 260lbs  basketball player, or a 4’9”ft 100lbs figure skater. Based on principles of individuality we know that every athlete is built based on their genetic variation. These genetic differences determine athletes’ limits as well as their capabilities. Certain individuals are just naturally built for the specific sport when others are not. When the bodies build can be altered only slightly, however body composition can be significantly altered with different types of training programs and properly suited nutrition. Yet, coaches have been taking advantage of this factor, and they have seen athletes improve performance “in general” when body weight decreases slightly. This led them to adopt this philosophy that “if small weight loss improves performance a little, then major weight loss should improve it even more”, not only do coaches, but athletes themselves, and even the parents adopt this way of thinking.  (Kenney, W. Larry; Wilmore, Jack; Costill, David. Physiology of Sport and Exercise)

 That was exactly the philosophy that was promoted to me, and my mother. The most current example is an Olympian, Gracie Gold, who is a very successful American figure skater who I competed against for many years. Recently she came out about her struggles with her mental issues and eating disorder. In this video, she talks about how the comment from her coach about her weight triggered her awareness of her caloric intake that lead her to obsessively counting calories. Gracie says her goal became to get the calories as low as she could, and if she felt like she ate too much she felt disgusted by her body. Gracie had to enter the Eating disorder treatment facility and in this video she talks about ignoring these symptoms in order to show toughness.

Taken on January 12, 2014 by C.Nabe Gracie Gold

Currie and Morse suggest “athletes are used to playing despite pain, and may have the “no pain, no gain” mentality, they may try to minimize their symptoms ”they also “express feelings of guilt about eating or being ‘fat’, despite normal weight or after a small meal” (Currie and Morse).  Her story is very similar to mine, I was constantly comparing myself to others, started hating my body because it couldn’t look the way I wanted to, which lead me to frustration, guilt and blaming myself. The reason being I couldn’t be as skinny and live up to all the things that were “expected” of me, causing me to develop social anxiety, and depression. Based on my experience I can say that it is very easy to start hating your body, and incredibly hard to find the love for it again. 

The most commonly known and diagnosed eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Athletica, and Binge Eating Disorder. The rates of prevalence vary from 1% to as high as 62% depending on different sports, with “63% of all female athletes develop symptoms of an eating disorder between the 9th and 12th grades” (Weinberg and Gould, 2015). Lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa is 1.5% in women and 0.5% in men. Binge eating is 3.5% in women and 2.0% in men and it is highly associated with obesity (Weinberg and Gould, 2015). Lifetime prevalence of Anorexia is lower 0.9% in women and 0.3% in men. However, anorexia is considered the more serious of the categories because those who suffer from anorexia have highly disturbed body image and do not realize they have a problem. This is compared to those with bulimia and binge eating realize that have this issue (Haff, Triplett, 2016). Below attached is the chart showing symptoms of these EDs.

Screenshot (Currie and Morse)
Screenshot (Currie and Morse)

Eating disorders are a very serious life threatening multidimensional mental disorder that can affect athletes beyond their performance in sport and is associated with one of the highest rates of mortality out of the mental disorders (Currie and Mores 2005). 

Current research shows that being exposed to prolonged unsupervised dieting, and sports specific training at a young age are the potential triggers for EDs. In the clinical review Risk and Trigger Factors for The Development of Eating disorders in Female Elite Athletesauthor Jorunn Budget-Borgen found that development of pathological eating habits is more frequent when athletes are participating only in a single sport, with higher frequency in sports that promote thin image for the appearance or performance enhancement. The author identifies dieting at a young age for prolonged period as one of the risks that trigger onset eating disorders. Furthermore, significant numbers of the athletes participating in this study reported they started dieting based on the coaches’ recommendation to lose weight in order to help enhance their performance (Borgen, 1993).

Such recommendations may be interpreted as an essential part to improve performance when athletes are young and easily influenced. This study suggests that coaches play a leading role in an athletes’ life, and their recommendations to lose weight can lead the athletes to lose as much weight as they can to please them and strive to remain the “ideal weight” by any means possible (Borgen, 1993). My coaches always have had a huge influence on me. I always did everything I was told, without qu

estioning, because I had to fully trust in my coaches’ knowledge. In the article Coaches’ Knowledge and Management of Eating Disorders: A randomized Controlled Trial, they point out; because coaches have daily interactions with athletes,they possess the unique position wherethey can identify the potential symptoms of pathological eating habits and with proper knowledge prevent athletes from developing eating disorders. 

“(IOS) Medical Commission and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that professionals participating in health maintenance and performance enhancement of athletes should be provided with specific knowledge and problem solving skills to better detect, manage, and prevent extreme dieting, ED, and the triad components” (Martinsen et.al., 2014).

 In 15 years of my carrier as a professional figure skater I have witnessed athletes engage in a variety of behaviors in order to manage their weight and “stay as skinny as they can”. In this research article Eating for Excellence: Eating Disorders in Elite Sport; Inevitability and Immunity(2012) author Oli Williams argues “that (sub-/elite) sports performers are strongly affected by a ‘discourse of excellence’ and that it is this discourse which most significantly impacts their dietary decisions; causing them to ‘eat for excellence” (33). The author provides overview from previous research and uses the data from the qualitative interviews conducted in this study to support the claim athletes are motivated by discourse of excellence.

The author proposes that focusing on the patterns of those athletes who managed to avoid eating disorders is important in order to develop effective strategies for prevention of disorderly eating. Based on my experience, having a proper education about the weight management and clear explanation and directions would make the difference. (Multiple studies have identified education as an effective way of ED presentation) (Currie and Mores 2005) (Coelho, et.al., 2014) (Nutrition for Athletes). I really believe an access to such information would have affected the choices of my behavior. I developed unhealthy eating habits that lead me to further psychological issues because I wanted to excel in sports. I was starving myself because as I thought it was going to help me enhance my abilities, but I no idea that it was impairing my performance instead. Most of the literature suggests education as one of the best ways of preventing EDs, as well as one of the ways of treatment of the EDs. 

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Education had made a change for me. Learning about nutrition and how incredible the human body is helped me develop a healthy  relationship with food and body.  Food is an  enormous part of human life and existence. Many of us come from different backgrounds and lifestyles, including the food we eat and the way we eat it. Current research shows that foods we choose affect our physiological processes, performance in sports, and our quality of life in the long run. Body is our weapon and we must know how it works and what it needs in order to use it most efficiently. The human body is a highly complex ultimate machine that we still haven’t been able to recreate, and we still don’t fully understand how it works. That is why it is important to learn and understand knowledge, the information that is available to us, because our body is essentially our main tool to achieve success.

Personally education helped me in the development of a healthier relationship with food and my body. In our society we tend to focus more on appearance and trying to find the ways to bypass our natural physiological processes and trickery instead of embracing its natural processes. We must supervise the youth and give them tools to manage their nutrition so that they don’t turn to Instagram and Google as the source because it comes with a certain risk.

Coaches, as well as parents and athletes especially in sports where body image is emphasized and weight management is a part of the sport, should be required to have an additional education about nutrition, weight management, and the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Parents are a huge part of their athlete’s life especially at a young age. Parents are an important part because as the study showed they are first source of information and the youth depends on them for food. General education is necessary in order to avoid putting young athletes at even higher risk of developing Eating Disorders. 

Proper weight management is a crucial part of adolescent athletes’ lives. At that age while training, it is important to build a solid muscle and bone foundation in order to excel in sport, since they are highly dependent for food on others. Sports are already putting a lot of demand on their body and it requires knowledge from multiple disciplines and should be looked at from an interdisciplinary perspective in order to provide the best support and develop safe and healthy environments for athletes. This is why as my capstone senior seminar project I developed an Educational Clinic for athletes, coaches, and their parents. I believe that especially in individual sports, athletes, parents, and coaches have to work together as a team to provide the safest environment possible.  I am planning to use education as a tool to prevent eating disorders, and promote positive deviance by teaching athletes about the importance of properly fueling in order to improve their performance. 

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics 

 

Work Cited

  1. Coaches’ Knowledge and Management of Eating Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial MARTINSEN, MARIANNE1; SHERMAN, ROBERTA T.2; THOMPSON, RON A2; SUNDGOT-BORGEN, JORUNN3

2. Eating Disorders in Athletes: Managingthe Risks Alan Currie, MD, MPhil, MRC Psycha, b,c,*, Eric D. Morse, MD d,e

3.Risk and trigger factors for the development of eating disorders in female elite athletes JORUNN SUNDGOT-BORGEN

4. Eating for Excellence: Eating Disorders in Elite Sport Inevitability and ‘Immunity’  University of Leicester, United Kingdom Oli Williams

5.Essentials Of Strength Training and ConditioningFourth Edition G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA  Edith Cowan University, Western Australia  N. Travis Triplett, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA  Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 

6. Nutrition for Athletes From International Olympic Comity IOC

7. Physiology of Sport and Exercise, Sixth Edition, Human Kinetics.  Kenney, W. Larry; Wilmore, Jack; Costill, David.    

8.Prevention of Eating Disorders in Female Athletes Gabriela Morgado de Oliveira Coelho,1 Ainá Innocencio da Silva Gomes,2 Beatriz Gonçalves Ribeiro,2 and Eliane de Abreu Soares1

Personal Learning Network Plan

Social media and the Internet is something our society depends on. Today, the Internet is a part of our everyday life. Almost every individual engages on some type of social media platform. It is almost necessary to be engaged in at least one of these platforms in order to keep up with everything and everyone. With its help we are able a=to access any information we might need in minutes. It is a great tool that has made many of our lives easier. Phone is almost apart of our hand, it’s essentially an extension which connects us to the rest of the world. In the matter of the seconds we can reach and video chat with people who are across the globe. It has become an necessary tool in order to promote yourself.

Since my field is very hands-on, a lot of times I have to handle professional communication face to face, over the phone, texts and the emails. This is why I haven’t created Linked yet although I am planning on creating one in the nearest future. I am fortunate to have preexisting connections on social media and personally which serve me as a primary advertisement. Usually, I am able to get ahold the contacts of the coaches who then also help me spread the word and share on their social media. When I am trying to target audience regionally (at specific rinks) I reach out by email to head coaches and/or the managers from the Ice Arena website to set up the meeting, or a phone call in order to discuss what I have to offer. If they are interested then coaches reach out to their athletes as well the other coaches at the rinks to spread the word.

I am planning on using Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as the main ways to advertise myself. I found that on Instagram I am able to engage with people more than on any of the other portals. Although I have over 6 thousand followers on twitter not as many people don’t seem to react to my tweet as much as on Instagram. However I find twitter very helpful for keeping up with the news in my filed and it is a great resource to find professionals across all the existing fields, so I plan on continuing to use it as a part of my PLN. I was thought about making a bread new Twitter and Instagram after IDS intro but I decided not to since I already have a significant number of followers on my original accounts. In my opinion these platforms especially Instagram has a very influential power on the audience that I am trying to reach, and a lot of this audience is already following me. So I decided to keep my original profiles’ in order to engage in personal learning plan.   

Brainstorm

1) I am working on the topic of Psychological ffects when athletes take supplements which they believe improves their performance.Because I want to find outif taking supplements can actually help athletes mental performance as well as physical. In order to help my reader understand betterhow much supplements help athletes perform mentally. This topic is important because there are thousands of different supplements that promote performance enhancement and they actually do not have physical performance. In my opinion when athlete believes that taking supplement’s will improve performance it can help them with building their confidence and take the anxiety away. 

2)  I am working on the topic of Overcoming fear of injury. Because I want to find outwhat is the best way to help athletes overcome fear of getting re injured. In order to help my reader understand betterwhat is the best way to help athletes return back to the sport. This topic is important because injuries are a big part of every sport and injuries can become as much mental as physical. A lot of times the mental trauma from the injury can hinder athletes from returning to sport and optimal performance.

3) I am working on the topic ofEffect of past experience in sports on future performance. Because I want to find out ow previous experiences affect the future performance. In order to help my reader understand betterthe importance of past experience. This topic is important because I believe that past experiences of failure as well as success can teach us about the performance in future and understanding this topic can help better predict and improve the future performance. 

4) I am working on the topic of Psychological effects of nutrition on mental and physical wellness. Because I want to find out how nutrition affects psychological state and physical state. In order to help my reader understand better the importance of nutrition while training. As a perfectional figure skater, I personally struggled with my diet for most of my carrier. Growing up I was never properly educated about the importance of proper nutrition and the way I was supposed to be eating. I and my skating peers were just told that had to lose weight but were not given proper directions on how to do it; “Just stop eating” coaches would tell us; “skip a meal” while we were intense training about 5-6 hrs a day. I have seen many of my friends including myself who had struggled with diet because of the sport which then affected us even beyond it. The issues with my nutrition were directly related to my looks which caused me to developed many insecurities and social anxiety. This affected my performance  as well as personal life. I would like to write this research paper for coaches,  athletes and their parents.

5) I am working on the topic of Body Image Disturbance in sports where leanness is emphasized. Because I want to find out how does body image disturbance affect athletes performance? In order to help my reader understand better about what leads athletes to body image disturbance and how to avoid it. This topic is important because athletes spend more energy and require proper fulling to accommodate their energy expenditure. In sports which emphasize lean body image athletes tend to associate leanness with performance which leads them to believe that “skinnier I am better I am going to perform” and causes them to adopt the pathological eating habits in order to maintain the “ideal weight”. Based on my experience as a professional figure skater have coaches promoted this philosophy to me from a very young age which lead me to developing insecurities regarding my body image that affected my mental state very negatively. 

Research Paper Draft

Factors that lead to Eating Disorders, body image disturbance and pathological eating habits in sports where body image is emphasized    

Risks are a part of the sports, many athletes take risks in pursuit of excellence. Making sports very demanding physically, as well as mentally. Some athletes go to extreme measures in order to excel, and it is considered one of the qualities of a “good” athlete. In order to become the “best”, athletes tend to put themselves at the risk of various accidental, as well as overuse injuries associated with the sports. In recent years risk of development of eating disorders became one of the big concerns in sports (Currie, Morse, 2005). Most of the current literature suggests that more females are affected than males, however, both genders are affected by this issue (Thompson, Sherman, 2014). These percentages also vary across different sports, however pathological eating behaviors occur at higher frequency in sports that emphasize the lean figure.  In pursuit of excellence and improvement in performance athletes have to make a lot of sacrifices, overcome pains and aches, having to be “tough” and competitive. It is important for athletes to have support from their team to take all the necessary precautions to prepare the athlete, in order to minimize these risks and promote the safest environment possible. Although participation in sports is not the cause, and coaches are not the only ones to blame, the correlation between the sporting environment and eating disorders exist (Currie, Morse, 2005). 

As a professional athlete for over 15 years some of the hardest competitions were to overcome myself in pursuit of this excellence; I learned all about the sacrifices early on. As an elite figure skater I was exposed to an unhealthy sporting environment at a very young age. Also My coaches had autocratic “do as I say” style of coaching which was the most common or, the only way of coaching at the time and place of training.  

My mother and I had to leave my country and move to Moscow when I was 8 for me to pursue the sport. Before I moved away my parents had me and my brother engaged in multiple sports. So I could say I begun sports specific training and was involved only in figure skating since I was nine. At eleven years old I started training with older girls, and became exposed to dieting, and association of the lighter weight with the improvement of performance. Coaches just told girls lose weight as quick as possible, and in order to stay the “ideal weight” we weren’t allowed to eat any sweets, baked goods, pastries, and to eat in small amounts but nothing past 6 pm every day. The most potent way as they said, was to just “close our mouth” which meant don’t eat or skip a meal.  Since I was 12, I was put on many diets to prevent me from gaining weight. Several of my coaches have told my mother to just stop feeding me, and to feed me a certain way to manage my weight, and she listened.

I had to grow up quite quickly because at the age of thirteen I improved very fast, and started competing internationally representing the Republic of Georgia against girls up to the age of nineteen. I won my first international medal (bronze) at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) followed with a gold medal in my second JGP event. At thirteen I became the first figure skater from Georgia to win medals and qualify for Junior Grand Prix final. At fifteen I qualified for my first Olympic games in Torino 2006, and with my 6th place after the Short Program and 10th place overall, I became the best winter Olympic athlete my country had ever produced (male or female). 

By winning my first bronze medal in European Championships in 2010, I also became the first Georgian figure skater to ever win medals in International Skating Union (ISU) championships in any discipline (female or male, dance, and pairs), to this day I remain one. After achieving such results the President of Georgia Michael Saakashvili personally awarded me the Medal of Honor at the age of sixteen. I am the only person to receive such an honorable award at such a young age in the history of my country

So as you can imagine I became very well known in my country and still am to this day. People started to recognize me on the streets, and pretty much everyone knew my last name. This put enormous psychological pressure on my shoulders, in addition to the pressure of staying “ideal figure skater weight” to fit the stereotype and neither I nor my mother knew how to deal with it. 

My mother didn’t have enough knowledge about weight management, especially for adolescent athletes who are intensely training as well as growing. Proper weight management is way more complicated and requires specific knowledge from multiple professionals specializing in sports nutrition as well as strength and conditioning (Haff and Triplett, 2016, p.g. 220). 

In the article “The Female Athlete: Energy and Nutrition Issues” author Melinda M. Manore argues that female athletes are commonly associated with nutritional issues which are caused by inadequate energy intake and expenditure to fit the demands of the sport. Manore supports her claim by providing scientifically based information about the quantities of caloric intake that female athletes must be consuming in order to match the energy expenditure. They identify that raising athletes’ awareness about their caloric needs and consulting with qualified professionals to establish nutrition plans best suited for each athlete can help prevent nutritional issues (Manore, 2017). 

Most of the literature refers to education about the risks as the way of preventing EDs (Coehlo, Manore, Currie and Morse,). In the cross sectional study, Eating Attitudes And Food Intake of Elite Adolescent Female Figure Skaters: authors report that elite adolescent figure skaters practice vigorously 27 – 33 hours per week with additional 6 hours of off-ice training, stretching, dancing and so on. In order to accommodate the adolescents’ growth as well as intense training athletes must match the caloric intake to both factors in order to reach potential for best performance. Hence, adolescents are facing double challenge in trying to consume a sufficient amount of calories. In this study they calculated required amounts of calories needed based on athletes’ individual requisite, and physical activity levels. Results reported that skaters had caloric deficits that range from -170, to – 2026 kcal/day on average (Dwyer et.al., 2012).  

In sports such as figure skating and gymnastics athletes also begin sport specific training early in order to keep up with the demands of the sport because it is a “young” sport. Research shows that in sports such as diving, gymnastics, figure skating and ballet female athletes, are at greater risks because leanness is highly associated with the sport. There is big pressure to fit the stereotype of the lean body types which are promoted by coaches and judges as well as the media;

“intense pressures to conform to the sport’s aesthetic ideal, coupled with traditional societal pressures regarding female weight and body shape, could cause skaters to alter their eating and exercise patterns in unhealthful directions” (Dwyer et.al., 2012) 

We have to look a certain way, based on the weight, dress and make up, in order to be accepted and taken seriously, and it becomes really easy to fall into the loop of unhealthy behavior patterns. Dealing with these pressures in addition to intense training comes at certain expense. The most current example is an Olympian, Gracie Gold, who is a very successful American figure skater who I competed against for many years. Recently she came out about her struggles with her mental issues and eating disorder. In this video she talks about how the comment from her coach about her weight triggered her awareness of her caloric intake that lead her to obsessively counting calories. Graciesays her goal became to get the calories as low as she could, and if she felt like she ate too much she felt disgusted by her body. This pressure of being on a public eye in the sport and fitting in to a certain image has led her to pathological eating behaviors which became unbearable to ignore. Gracie had to enter the Eating disorder treatment facility and in this video she talks about ignoring these symptomsin order to show toughness. Currie and Morse suggest “athletes are used to playing despite pain, and may have the “no pain, no gain” mentality, they may try to minimize their symptoms ”they also expressfeelings of guilt about eating or being ‘fat’, despite normal weight or after a small meal” (Currie and Morse).  Her story is very similar to mine, I was constantly comparing myself to others, started hating my body because it couldn’t look the way I wanted to, which lead me to frustration, guilt and blaming myself. The reason being I couldn’t be as skinny and live up to all the things that were “expected” of me, causing me to develop social anxiety, and depression. Based on my experience I can say that it is very easy to start hating your body, and incredibly hard to find the love for it again. 

Athletes’ body composition plays a critical role in sports since each sport has a certain criteria of athletes proportions’ which is associated with optimal performance; it could be a 6’8”, 260lbs  basketball player, or a 4’9”ft 100lbs figure skater. Based on principles of individuality we know that every athlete is built based on their genetic variation. These genetic differences determine athletes’ limits as well as their capabilities. Certain individuals are just naturally built for the specific sport when others are not. When the bodies build can be altered only slightly, however body composition can be significantly altered with different types of training programs and properly suited nutrition. Yet, coaches have been taking advantage of this factor, and they have seen athletes improve performance “in general” when body weight decreases slightly.

This lead them to adopt this philosophy that “if small weight loss improves performance a little, then major weight loss should improve it even more”, not only do coaches, but athletes themselves, and even the parents adopt this way of thinking.  (Kenney, W. Larry; Wilmore, Jack; Costill, David. Physiology of Sport and Exercise (Kindle Locations 10492-10493). That was exactly the philosophy that was promoted to me, and my mother.

Figure Skaters get judged based on their technical, as well as their presentational skills. This is counted as a half of the total score that is. For me, my weight became a part of the sport since the very beginning because the way we looked was always associated with our performance. Multiple studies as well as the textbooks suggests that adolescent athletes are underdeveloped mentally, highly impressionable, and fail to consider risks. During puberty there are all sorts of changes that go on in the body. At this stage the body changes so drastically, and sometimes these changes are against the sport. This is why starting sport specific training when athletes are not fully grown is one of the factors that contribute to development of eating disorders (Ex Phys textbook, Currie and Morse, Borgen). 

Coaches would weigh us multiple times throughout the week, some of us whom they considered have “weight issues” or keep a lower “ideal weight” would have to weigh every day. They would also weigh us randomly based on our practice. If we performed poorly in the practice, they would weigh us, assuming that it was because we ate too much. If we happened to be more than what they thought we should be they would blame our outcomes during practice on our weight. Coaches would tell us to lose the weight, and sometimes even add an extra practice.

 “ Diet affects performance and the foods that we choose in training and competition will affect how well we train and compete” (Maughan and Burke 2010,2012). The author supports his claims by providing all the necessary information on how to fuel the body properly when performing, as well as the problems that are associated with micro and macronutrient deficiency. Maughan and Burke propose this to inform athletes who are training at the elite level how to fuel properly in order to achieve the most optimal gains and minimize chances of injuries and other health problems associated with nutrition (Maughan and Burke 2010,2012). 

In 15 years of my carrier as a professional figure skater I have witnessed athletes engage in a variety of behaviors in order to manage their weight and “stay as skinny as they can”. In order to meet an ideal weight set by the coach, athletes engage in potential health treating behaviors to lose weight as quickly as they can. These techniques include: 

“fasting, fad diets, voluntary dehydration (diuretics, sauna, water and salt manipulation, wearing multiple layers of clothing), excessive spitting, self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretics, and inappropriate or excessive use of thermogenic aids and excessive exercises”(Haff, Triplett, 2016, p. g 220)(Coelho, et.al., 2014). 

Although these ways are not categorized as clinically diagnosed Eating Disorders, these are considered extreme unnatural measures of weight management. In review study Prevention Of Eating Disorders in Female Athletes, authors associate these habits with even higher risk that lead to development of clinically diagnosed EDs. This means that athletes could be having some of the symptoms but not all, to strictly fit the criteria of EDs. These weight management habits that range from presence of some or most symptoms of clinically diagnosed Eating Disorders are also classified as (EDNOS) Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Athletes who begin to engage in any pathological eating habits are putting their health, as well as performance, in big jeopardy. Authors suggest that recognizing risks and signs on early stages as well as regulatory screening questionnaires can be helpful in order to prevent athletes reach the clinical level (Coelho, et.al., 2014). 

The most commonly known and diagnosed eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Athletica, and Binge Eating Disorder. The rates of prevalence vary from 1% to as high as 62% depending on different sports, with “63% of all female athletes develop symptoms of an eating disorder between the 9th and 12th grades” (Weinberg and Gould, 2015). Lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa is 1.5% in women and 0.5% in men. Binge eating is 3.5% in women and 2.0% in men and it is highly associated with obesity (Weinberg and Gould, 2015). Lifetime prevalence of Anorexia is lower 0.9% in women and 0.3% in men. However, anorexia is considered the more serious of the categories because those who suffer from anorexia have highly disturbed body image and do not realize they have a problem. This is compared to those with bulimia and binge eating realize that have this issue (Haff, Triplett, 2016). Below attached is the chart showing symptoms of these EDs.

Eating disorders are a very serious life threatening multidimensional mental disorder that can affect athletes way beyond their performance in sport. Eating Disorders are associated with one of the highest rates of mortality out of the mental disorders (Currie and Mores 2005) 

In the article Eating Disorders in Athletes: Managing the Risks, authors Alan Currie and Eric D. Morse also argue that athletes who develop eating disorders are associated with recurrent injuries, shorter careers, as well as morbidity and mortality. Currie and Morse support their claim by analyzing data from preexisting studies, provide the characteristic of eating disorders as well as the symptoms and possible treatments. The authors purpose is to promote environment at the organizational level in order to recognize the issues in the developing stages and to reduce the risks (Currie and Mores 2005) (Coelho, et.al., 2014).

With the advance in technology, new generations are constantly using the Internet and the mobile devises. The study showed that 70% of youth from ages 13 – 17 own smartphones. A study conducted on adolescents health information-seeking they found that they chose Google as a preferred search engine and they chose one out of first nine search result without searching any further. There are also applications pretty much for anything you may need, so it is not a surprise to see teens to sick for health related questions onlineIn the article, Teens Health and Technology: A National Survey,of 1,156 U.S. teens ages 13 to 18 years old 

“survey covered the types of health topics teens most frequently search for, which technologies they are most likely to use and how they use them, and whether they report having changed their behaviors due to digital health information” ( Wartella et.al., 2014).

They concluded that teens 84% of teens reported having received health information online during their lifetime.  25% who said they have received “a lot” of health information online, 36% who get “some” and 22% who get “only a little”. They also show that 55% get a lot of information from their parents, 33% reporting that they get “some” health information from their parents. 29% of teens also reported getting “a lot” and 40% reported getting “some” health information from doctors and nurses. (Wartella et.al., 2014)There are a lot of unreliable sources out there and since parents are most turned to source for adolescents it is important that they provide them with proper knowledge about the online search. 

At age 12, I was already interested in dieting and nutrition. If I was old enough to learn about different diets and ways to lose weight it means I was also old enough to learn the basics about my body and what happens with food after I ingest it. All I knew was that “you eat and then you poop” and if I ate foods such as; chocolate candy bars, this food would make me fat. Whenever I did eat foods that I was told would make me “fat” it made me feel guilty. In my head, I was taking away from my performance, and so I started to look at food as an enemy and started hating my body because it was so easy to get “fat” and so hard to lose the weight. 

In this research article Eating for Excellence: Eating Disorders in Elite Sport; Inevitability and Immunity(2012) author Oli Williams argues “that (sub-/elite) sports performers are strongly affected by a ‘discourse of excellence’ and that it is this discourse which most significantly impacts their dietary decisions; causing them to ‘eat for excellence” (33). The author provides overview from previous research and uses the data from the qualitative interviews conducted in this study to support the claim athletes are motivated by discourse of excellence. The author proposes that focusing on the patterns of those athletes who managed to avoid eating disorders is important in order to develop effective strategies for prevention of disorderly eating. Based on my experience, having a proper education about the weight management and clear explanation and directions would make the difference. (Multiple studies Have identified education as an effective way of ED presentation) (Currie and Mores 2005) (Coelho, et.al., 2014) (Nutrition for Athletes)

I really believe an access to such information would have affected the choices of my behavior. I developed unhealthy eating habits that lead me to further psychological issues because I wanted to excel in sports. I was starving myself because as I thought it was going to help me enhance my abilities, but I no idea that it was impairing my performance instead. 

Current research shows that being exposed to prolonged unsupervised dieting, and sports specific training at a young age are the potential triggers for EDs. In the clinical review Risk and Trigger Factors for The Development of Eating disorders in Female Elite Athletesauthor Jorunn Budget-Borgen found that development of pathological eating habits is more frequent when athletes are participating only in a single sport, with higher frequency in sports that promote thin image for the appearance or performance enhancement. The author identifies dieting at a young age for prolonged period as one of the risks that trigger onset eating disorders. Furthermore, significant numbers of the athletes participating in this study reported they started dieting based on the coaches’ recommendation to lose weight in order to help enhance their performance (Borgen, 1993). 

Such recommendations may be interpreted as an essential part to improve performance when athletes are young and easily influenced. This study suggests that coaches play a leading role in an athletes’ life, and their recommendations to lose weight can lead the athletes to lose as much weight as they can to please them and strive to remain the “ideal weight” by any means possible (Borgen, 1993). 

Based on my experience I can say that this is true, my coaches always have had a huge influence on me. I always did everything I was told, without questioning, because I had to fully trust in my coaches’ knowledge. In the article Coaches’ Knowledge and Management of Eating Disorders: A randomized Controlled Trial, they point out; because coaches have daily interactions with athletes, they possess the unique position where they can identify the potential symptoms of pathological eating habits and with proper knowledge prevent athletes from developing eating disorders. 

“(IOS) Medical Commission and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that professionals participating in health maintenance and performance enhancement of athletes should be provided with specific knowledge and problem solving skills to better detect, manage, and prevent extreme dieting, ED, and the triad components” (Martinsen et.al., 2014)

In most of the literature they suggest education as one of the best ways of preventing EDs, as well as one of the ways of treatment of the EDs. Education had made a change for me. Learning about nutrition and how incredible the human body is helped me develop a healthy relationship with food and body.  Food is an enormous part of human life and existence. Many of us come from different backgrounds and lifestyles, including the food we eat and the way we eat it. 

Current research shows that foods we choose affect our physiological processes, performance in sports, and our quality of life in the long run. Body is our weapon and we must know how it works and what it needs in order to use it most efficiently. The human body is a highly complex ultimate machine that we still haven’t been able to recreate, and we still don’t fully understand how it works. That is why it is important to learn and understand knowledge, the information that is available to us, because our body is essentially our main tool to achieve success. Personally education helped me in the development of a healthier relationship with food and my body. In our society we tend to focus more on appearance and trying to find the ways to bypass our natural physiological processes and trickery instead of embracing its natural processes. We must supervise the youth and give them tools to manage their nutrition so that they don’t turn to Instagram and Google as the source because it comes with a certain risk.

In my opinion, coaches, as well as parents and athletes especially in sports where body image is emphasized and weight management is a part of the sport, should be required to have an additional education about nutrition, weight management, and the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Parents are a huge part of their athlete’s life especially at a young age. Parents are an important part because as the study showed they are first source of information and the youth depends on them for food.

I believe that general education is necessary in order to avoid putting young athletes at even higher risk of developing Eating Disorders. Proper weight management is a crucial part of adolescent athletes’ lives. At that age while training, it is important to build a solid muscle and bone foundation in order to excel in sport, since they are highly dependent for food on others. Sports are already putting a lot of demand on their body and it requires knowledge from multiple disciplines and should be looked at from an interdisciplinary perspective in order to provide the best support and develop safe and healthy environments for athletes. 

This is why as my capstone senior seminar project I developed an Educational Clinic for athletes, coaches, and their parents. I believe that especially in individual sports, athletes, parents, and coaches have to work together as a team to provide the safest environment possible.  I am planning to use education as a tool to prevent eating disorders, and promote positive deviance by teaching athletes about the importance of, fueling in order to improve their performance.

Elenes Educational Clinic

Senior Semi Applied Project

As my Applied Project, I designed a day Educational Clinic for skaters, coaches as well as athletes.  I was very fortunate to get a perfect spot PSU Ice Arena to host my clinic. PSU ice arena was the most ideal place I could ask for, it has a beautiful presentation area where you can also warm-up and and stretch.

At the Welcome Station, the participants received name tags, a handout with all the information about the what was covered in camp, signed the media wavers, and the feedback survey

In this clinic I covered: 

  1. “General Principles of Training”  Presentation:

I explained the 5 general principles regarding the ways we should train to achieve our maximal potential focusing on specific sports. These principles are;

  • Principle of Individuality 
  • Principle of Specificity 
  • Principle of Reversibility
  • Principle of Progressive Overload
  • Principle of Variation
Presentation on Sports Specific Training and Stretching

2. Next we presided to Dynamic Warmup

In the warmup was designed to fit the sport specificity of figure skaters based on what I learned in my Strength and Conditioning class and my experience as a professional figure skater.

At-A-Glance: Focus points for warm up included:

  • Joints: Neck, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle rolls before jogging
  • Jog around the rink (or other activity to warm up the body and raise the heart rate)
  • Deeper muscular stretches: combine stretching with balance
  • Incorporate plyometric exercises
  • Off-ice jumping


Next: Energy System Development and HR conditioning  based on Rate Perceived Exertion scale On-Ice

Explaining what is Energy System Development and RPE Scale

In this part, we learned how to calculate HRmax and what are the percentages for different intensities on the RPE scale or the HR Zones

  • Why is it important to develop different zones of cardiovascular system ?

For example, Long Program in figure skating routine is about 4 minutes. We begin our program somewhat rested somewhere from 70 – 100 beats per minute (BPM) and as we progress through the program HR goes up linearly, from 100 BPM all the way up to our HRmax. As exercise intensity and HR increase and we progress through each of these HR zones, our body uses different energy systems to supply us with energy (ATP) based on oxygen availability (ATP). So, we must focus on the development of our entire cardiovascular system, our Aerobic as well as Phospogen, and Anaerobic energy systems, not just one aspect of it. We must focus on the quality of the work, and aim our training specifically towards what the sport demand. By understanding a heart rate scale, skaters can recognize their bodies perceived “limits” and train to increase performance capacity in order to perform at the best.

Explaining how to apply RPE scale

Energy System Development On Ice Based on RPE

Zone 1 = HRmax at 65 – 75 % for moderate effort activity. For example – On RPE scale 1 – 3, heart rate is raised, but still able to breathe comfortably and talk in full sentences.

Zone 2 = HRmax 75 – 82 % for vigorous activity. For example – On RPE scale 4 – 6, heart rate is increased to the point that breathing is heavy, but can maintain this pace for a long time; can hold short conversations, with the need to “catch your breath.”

Optional

Zone 3 = HRmax 82 – 90 % for hard, intense activity. For example – On RPE scale 6, 7 – 9this is the vigorous level of activity which you can sustain for a short time.  The heart is pounding, can’t speak, the body’s entire effort is focused on completing the requisite activity.

Zone 2

For each of these zones I desigend set of stroking steps to fit the intensity. I also provided participants with flashcards with “fun facts” so that they could read them at the end of each set in order to chack the heart rate

Next, we covered different types of stretching techniques

  

Stretching after ice
  • Static 
  • Dynamic 
  • Passive Stretching 
  • Ballistic  
  • Active Isolated Stretching 
  • Isolated Stretching (PNF)

“One of the world’s foremost experts on human performance, Mark Verstegen pioneered the concept of integrated performance training, which he’s brought to the world’s top athletes, corporations, and the U.S. military. As founder and president of EXOS, he has served as the NFLPA’s performance director for 18 years and is the author of six books.”

We used one of his book for Flex Core and Balance class and I love his philosophy on training, he and his team have multiple online networking portals on Twitter where the post about the finding of most recent research.


Work + Rest = Success is a quote by ⍲ Mark Verstegen 

Recovery is a crucial part of the training, especially after hard workouts after which we feel sore. Soreness is essentially caused by tiny tears in muscle fibers which then heal forming bigger, stronger, tighter packed cross bridges which is how to build our muscle. This is why it is necessary to give our muscles enough time to heal. While helping them recover actively as well as passively recover with stretching, massage, and so on in order to stay healthy and keep building strength.

Break and Snack

Next, we all had a little break and a fresh fruit snack. I really wanted to have engaging activity with food and with the help of my former faculty Denise Normandin I was able to get catering of fresh fruits out of which participants made fruit kababs. Everyone enjoyed the activity and everyone got an extra serving vitamins

Fruit kababs

Presentation on Nutrition Requirements

In this presentation I covered:

“Energy Balance” = Energy Intake – Energy Expenditure 

  • How is it calculated ?
  •  Basal (BMR) vs (RER) Resting Metabolic Rate 
  • What effects our metabolic rate and energy expenditure ?
  • What are 6 main nutrients ?
  • Why do we need all 6 ?
  • What are the recommended amounts of these nutrients for athlete’s vs  non athletes?
  • Why be careful when choosing supplements ?
  • What are Nutrient Dense Foods ? 
  • Why is social support is so important in development of healthy relationship with food and body image to prevent pathological eating habits which can lead to serious mental health issues ? 

The presentation was supposed to be 30 minutes but it ended up a little longer about 40 minutes. For the presentation part parents and coaches also joined in. I was very impressed by the fact that almost all the girls sat through my last presentation, engaged the whole time, even asking questions.  This just proves the fact that girls even as young as 10 are already interested in nutrition and dieting.

Food is a big part of our existence and it something that brings us all together. There is no such thing as good food or bad food. However, current research shows foods we choose affect our physiological processes, performance in sports, and our quality of life in the long run. The goal is to spread the knowledge about general nutrition, because many of us come from different backgrounds and lifestyles, including the food we eat and the way we eat it.

Unfortunately, in our society, we tend to focus more on appearance and trying to find ways to bypass natural our physiological processes and trickery instead of embracing the bodies natural processes. We should always keep in mind that if we are altering its natural state we are changing the physiology which comes with the risk of it malfunctioning.  Which = disease, cancer, etc.

Parents and coaches can help young ones to develop a healthy relationship with food in order to avoid the development of pathological eating habits and eating disorders. As the mentors, we must supervise and give them tools to manage their nutrition so that they don’t turn to Instagram and Google as the only source because it comes with a bid risk.