There is a lot of pressure to perform and bring home good results for elite athlete's and students. I have been a parent of a year 12 student and I know the pressure they can be under. I have also worked in elite sports and see the pressure they are under to perform week in week out. My advice to my son was start the year like training for a sporting event with finals time being exam time. In both cases looking after your body is essential for long term performance and results.Each week there is a game to play in order to be good enough for the grand final, this is like the regular assessments tasks and homework to be done.
As an athlete, your focus is on improving your physical skills to perform at your best during a game. For a student, skill development is gaining knowledge to perform at your best on assessments.
After a training session or a day of classes there is still plenty of work yet to be done. To keep your body on the field as an athlete there are more things than just on the field training. You have recovery ice baths, massages, yoga, watching videos of your game, seeing the sports dietitian(of course), the equivalent of homework.
Both professional athletes and year 12 students make sacrifices with time, needing to prioritise. Looking after your body is essential for a student like it is an elite athlete. You need to get your body through each week in the best condition it can be, with the stamina to still peak at your best when finals and exam time arrives.
What are my 7 tips to you?
My first one is getting enough good quality sleep. I believe if you get enough sleep you will make better food choices, retain knowledge, be more likely to exercise and be positive about things. When tired quick pick me ups like sugary foods and caffeine are often the go to. If this is regular it isn’t going to be the best way to fuel your body. x
2. Drink water
We know athlete’s do not concentrate as well when dehydrated and students are likely to be the same. Check your urine, it should be the colour of straw.
Being well hydrated also helps with fresh breath. Saliva helps keep the bacteria under control and when dehydrated there is less saliva to do this. ,
3. Eat breakfast
Fuel yourself in the morning. When you are ‘hangry’ it is hard to concentrate. It also allows for nourishing food rather than snack foods mid morning because you are staring. Include protein to aid with cell repair and brain function producing neurotransmitters important for memory and carbohydrate for energy e.g. cereal with milk and yoghurt, egg or peanut butter on toast, handful of nuts and a piece of fruit, banana smoothie.
4. Look after your immune system
Include 2 pieces of fruit a day for vitamin C, this helps boost the immune system. Foods containing zinc are also important, such as wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts and meat or seafood. To help your immune system, eat well, sleep enough and keep physically active. As the year goes on for athletes and student’s you get fatigued. It is your aim to be at your best by the end of the year not run down.
5. Keep iron sources up.
Iron is essential to make haemoglobin that carries oxygen around your body. You will feel fatigued if you become iron deficient. Red meat, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, lentils and legumes are the best sources.
6. Snack attack
Choose study snacks wisely- fuel yourself and plan. Nuts,small amounts of dried fruit, wholegrain bread with cheese, tuna, egg or nut spreads, soup, cut up vegetables with hummus or tzatziki, crackers and cheese,milk, fresh fruit are all great. Not every break needs to involve food. Think whether you are hungry first. It might be great to skip, run, walk, meditate, dance to music or anything active to get the happy hormones flowing (endorphins).
7. Eat at home most often.
Eating at home has been shown to increase your vegetable intake. Vegetables contain antioxidants to reduce inflammation, important for a healthy immune system. Pack your lunch, with some protein, carbohydrate and‘plant’ matter e.g. wrap with chicken, cheese, tomato and lettuce or Rice paper rolls, soup, crackers with cheese and tomato, homemade muffin, fruit and nuts,it also saves you money. Cooking might be a nice relaxation tool between study.Cook for a few friends or the family.
Athlete’s have coaches and students have teachers. Athlete's attend training and students classes. Athlete's eat to perform at their best and student's can too, why wouldn't we all want to, 'Eat Like An Athlete' to perform at our best! My new (and first) book, is titled Eat Like An Athlete. You can grab a copy online,in book stores or in Target.
Good luck to everyone and nourish your body with sleep, rest, kindness and optimal nutrition. It is the key to your performance.