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A day on my plate

As a professional athletes nutrition is just as important as my training regime.

During my career I had a lot to learn. One thing I learned is that there is no ONE right way. The individual nutrition does not only depend on the sport and discipline but also on the individual body.

Growing up in Germany I believed fat was the devil and diet should be based on carbs supported with proteins. I learned whole grains are healthy and white bread isn’t. Carbs, such as pasta and bread, is filling and a good energy provider for your daily training program. And if you want to loose weight or get in shape, you need to go for the fat free products.

After living in different countries, meeting loads of fellow athletes and about 8 years of full time training I learned a lot about different principles of nutrition and my body. I know what works for me and what fuels my body to have enough energy during training and competition.

Being lactose and gluten intolerant my body is super sensitive with what I eat. The wrong foods easily upset my stomach and make me feel light headed or bloated.

Therefore I started to change my entire nutrition and since base my diet on fats (as the energy provider) supported by proteins (for muscle gain and recovery). For a while I tried to stick to a full ketogenic diet but as a lover of sweets and eating out I settled on a light version of this.

 

So here’s a typical day on my plate:

As I’m not a morning person at all and I have a hard time getting out of bed early enough to make a proper breakfast,  I make something easy. With my first training session only an hour away, I don’t want to have anything heavy in my stomach that may get me sick on the track.

The Bulletproof coffee is an amazing energy provider and gets me awake and through the morning.

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Bulletproof Coffee

If you’re not familiar with the Bulletproof coffee, here’s a short little summary.

It got invented as part of the Bulletproof diet and contains black coffee, grasfed butter and MCT oil. Individually those ingredients don’t sound healthy at all but the combination makes a really unique drink with loads of health benefits. The high intake of fat is supposed to take your body into ketosis, a metabolic state provoked by the lack of carbs that kicks fat-burning into overdrive.

During the night, with several hours between dinner and breakfast our body goes into a state of fasting. Our livers produce ketones that enable our body to use fat cells to produce the necessary energy to maintain our body functions.

Many of you may know the feeling of waking up in the morning starving. But instead of relying on carbs and breaking the state of fasting I fuel my body with fat, which provides my body with enough energy for my training session but keeps my body in the state of fasting a bit longer. This is called intermitted fasting. Fat as an energy provider is technically the healthier kind of fuel for our body as it produces less toxins when your body breaks it down to produce energy. It makes me feel less fatigue and sick on a hard day on the track.

After my first session my body is ready for some proper food. To make sure my body recover properly from training I need to make sure to get some sort of protein in within the next hour. I usually make a quick bacon, egg , avocado and spinach dish at home or go to some of the incredible cafes in our area offering similar kinds of food.

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eggs, avo, asparagus, tomatoes and prosciutto

Just before my second session of the day I often feel a little hole in my stomach so I often have a snack of almonds or some other sort of nut. This goes really well with a green tea or matcha tea as a source of antioxidants (helps your muscle soreness) and caffeine.

The afternoons we usually spent in the gym working on strength, conditioning and personal weaknesses. I may also have some sort of treatment such as physio or soft tissue. We also try to go to recovery (ice bath, spa and “river”) after every hard session.

Coming home in the evening, the last thing I feel like is cooking. I am lucky enough to have a boyfriend that takes over this part. We try to base our meals on vegetables and healthy proteins but often have a side of some sort of carbs such as sweet potato or quinoa. As my body is naturally low iron we often eat red meats such as lamb (fresh from the farm of my boyfriends family – my favourite!) or some fresh fish from the local markets.

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tuna 3 ways with different veggies

Later in the evening I am craving something sweet and my secret remedy for this is my house-made lemon, ginger and honey tea. Just cut some fresh ginger in small slices, squeeze out half a lemon and stir in a teaspoon of honey. Pour over boiling water, let it sit for 10 min and enjoy.

 

As I mentioned earlier, there is no one right way. All together I try to stick to healthy and fresh foods and avoid foods that doesn’t do my body well.

 

 

 

Playing fair is a choice

In today’s world of sports, it seems that anything done for an advantage, is fair game – as long as you don’t get caught.  These days track and field is making big headlines, revealing a large number of athletes who have been caught cheating.

Athletes are considered role models, meaning they serve as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others. Their values not only shape our culture, they actually reflect it. Bending, evading and breaking the rules, is not a value we want to exemplify to society.

The International Olympic Committee stats “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport.” (Fundamental Principle 6)

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by track and field. In my eyes it was one of the purest sports. It seemed so simple: whoever runs fastest or jumps further, wins. There is no big technology or equipment involved, but willpower, dedication and hard training. I looked up to athletes like Carl Lewis and Bob Beamon.

But the faster athletes ran, the more people had to question how naturally these performances were achieved. In the last few years the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) revealed more and more athletes associated with doping. Big names in the world of track and field got caught using unfair methods.

 

In the Paralympic world we have an additional issue. Technology advancements leading to techno doping is becoming a problem. Some athletes use special equipment only available for themselves, double leg amputees are running on disproportionally long legs to increase their stride length and some athletes even pretend to have a bigger disability in order to get in a “slower class”.

 

Where does cheating start and what is just clever play? There is a wide disagreement on what is “part of the game” and what is unsportsmanlike conduct. Many people trivialize the discussion of ethics in sports. Playing fair is much more than just playing by the rules. While illegal conduct in sports is unethical, an act is not necessarily ethical simply because it is legal.  There are dual concepts of duty and virtue. While duty suggests a minimal, mandatory aspect of ethics, virtue requires moral excellence. It takes a strong character to perceive and deal with ethical decision. As athletes (and even coaches) are continually faced with opportunities to cheat, the price of doing the right thing seems sometimes out of proportion and it is hard to resist the temptation and pressure to do otherwise. Of course winning is important. Athletes and their coaches devote a huge portion of their lives to being the best they can, in order to win and break records. Trying to win is essential, without passion and enjoyment of victory the spiritual value of sports would be lost.

The concept of fair play though is fundamental to sports too. Cheating violates the spirit and the integrity of the sports. The rules do not only establish standards of fair play, but they also define the game. Sports should be a contest of athletic skills. It’s a duty to show respect for ones opponents, including pre- and post-game rituals such as hand-shaking, bowing and demonstrating grace and respectful civility whether they win or lose. In general a competition is more enjoyable when it is balanced enough to make the game competitive and give all athletes a chance to win. If athletes search for unfair advantages this balance is no longer given and the sport is losing its attraction.

„Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will, and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example, and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.“ (Fundamental Principle 2)

A great example of virtue is from the 1936 Olympics:

“In the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, Adolf Hitler said, „Americans ought to be ashamed of themselves for letting their medals be worn by Negroes. I myself would never shake hands with one of them.“ Jesse Owens, the great American track and field star had already embarrassed the German dictator by winning gold medals in the sprint and relay. But in his first two attempts at the long jump, he stepped over the foul line. He recalls being scared stiff that he would foul on his third attempt and not make it to the final. His fiercest rival in the event was Luz Long, the German athlete. Despite the risk of infuriating Hitler and the chance that Owens would beat him, Long took a towel, laid it down a foot before the foul line, and advised Owens to use it to assure he would qualify. Owens did, and he ultimately defeated Long to win the gold medal. Long’s extraordinary display of sportsmanship and courage went well beyond duty but demonstrated the highest standards of ethical virtue in sports. Aftermath: Luz Long was sent to the Russian front where he was killed. When his daughter was married years later, Jesse Owens walked her down the aisle.”

Fair play means much more than playing within the rules, it is a choice and an attitude. I choose to be at a reasonable height (I am actually shorter now than before my accident). I choose to not take any performance enhancing drugs but focus on a good and nutritious diet. I choose to run on knees and not on stiff pylon legs, in order to make equality to my competitors and keep it comparable. I try to win by training hard and not by gaining a technical advantage. All together I strive to have a fair competition trying my best to keep it fair. I believe ethics is essential to true winning and sportsmanship. The best strategy to improve sports is not to de-emphasize winning but stick to ethical standards and sportsmanship and give victory its true sense. It is one thing to be declared the winner, it is quite another to really win.

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Win and forget, lose and forget

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog. I had plenty of thoughts I wanted to share but whenever last year’s competition season came around I was mentally STRESSED OUT.

I though a new coach by my side, a new environment, a new trainings group and a different kind of training would be enough to make me a different athlete, well even a different person.

I was wrong. I won’t lie I had the toughest time of my entire life. I usually am a person who needs peace and harmony. Every single little fight is getting me out of inner balance. And last year been packed with fights. Fights regarding to my visa, fights with my coach and other different characters, fights with sport officials, … I felt I got threatened unfair, I thought I am right and they are wrong.

The years before my move I had to experience some losses. Losses in sports, losses in private life and I felt stuck. That’s why I moved to the states, started a new life in a new environment and expected to find happiness again. The problem was being emotionally stuck won’t get solved by moving places. While you put your good experiences in your pocket, we put the bad ones in our heart. It goes to our heads and is eating us up piece by piece. Losses never leave us the same.

Yes, moving helped me walk away from things and people, which obviously didn’t make me happy, but being somewhere else I still was the same person and this was actually the bigger problem. The old problems disappeared but new ones came up. I am not proud on this but I have to admit I was spending hours cussing and complaining about how life is unfair and how hard my situation is. But soon I figured out this first of all won’t get me anywhere and second of all won’t make me any happier or a better athlete.

Training here made me improve, actually made me improve a lot. People started talking why. Sure my training was different. And sure I wasn’t working 45 hours next to my training so I could focus on my sports. On the other hand we have difficult training facilities, I do not have any access to physio therapy or sport doctors and my funding got cut. So what made me run faster and jump that much further?

I am now able to name it: I made a mental transformation. My coach isn’t just a coach to me, he is a mentor. In his very own (and often hard) way he made me change my attitude. He taught me how to move on. Win and forget, lose and forget. If you win take the confidence out of it, if you lose take it as an opportunity to learn.

Stop worrying what other people think. The most important person in your life is you. So the most important opinion about yourself is the one from yourself. Let all your opponent get caught up in other people opinions, but not you. “Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.”(Lou Brock) I was one of these guys. I cared so much about how things I do or wear make me look like instead of doing what I believe in and what I feel good about. You can try to please all the people around you but you will never succeed. I promise they will find things to dislike and make you feel small.

But stop making yourself small. Each and every single time you judge yourself you break your own heart. Be patient with yourself, just as patient as you would be with your best friend. Nobody is perfect and life is a succession of losses. Take them as they come and do not allow them to build up. The sooner you face them, the sooner you get the weight of your chest. One little failure often is an easy lesson but once you start making an inner staple of failures the combined weight may cause you to break.

I improved because I believe in myself and in what I do. I trust my coach and the progress. I am good to myself just as good I am to my loved ones. I set myself priorities and I try to stick to them. I am working hard, in training but also mentally. This new life and often difficult situation made me grow and learn. I am not there yet but I am on my way to get a better athlete and a better person cause I love myself and I love what I do.

Thank you!

Starting the year 2014 with my preparations for the 2016 games in rio I just want to share with you how important my sponsors are and how grateful I am to had their support over the past few years and still have. I am pretty proud with how far I have come and I couldn’t be more thankful to be where I am today.
My main sponsor Rheinpower believed in me and supported me from the very first minute and took me into their Team Rheinpower together with Olympic Track and field Champion Robert Harting, soccer stars Ivo Grlic and Inka Grings and winter sport athletes Tino Edelmann, Fanny Chmelar and Laura Dahlmeier. Being an paralympic athlete sponsored by a big company spreads awareness of our sports in the society, commerce and industry.
Without their help I wouldnt be the athelte I am today and this is why:
Looking at an athlete you can see he is traveling the world, meeting interesting people and you see them competing for a few seconds. Most of the people don’t realize the time, money and emotional energy goes into this journey, especially being an athlete with 2 artificial legs. One pair of running legs is equivalent to the price of a brand new luxoury car and in the last 3 years i had probably 3 sets of legs, exchanging several broken parts of them. I can’t count the hours I spend in my leg shop fixing issues on my legs and I can’t count how many hours I spend in the car on my way there. So even more important was the car I got from Rheinpower to easily arrive at all my appointments which were spread over germany.
On top of the crazy amount of time and money I put a lot of bloodsweat into each day of training to get the best athlete I can be.
Keeping this in mind you can imagine how much I must love my sport and I really do and I absolutely enjoy doing what I do.
Anyway i thought it’s time to say thank you Dambeck prosthesis for all their hard work, Rheinpower for believing in me and supporting me on my journey since the beginning and swiss life select for helping me to afford my endless consumption of knees. Without you I wouldn’t be that athlete that I am today.

Thank you so so much!

I can’t get up … can’t get up … get up … up!

One of my biggest reason coming to the states was the german random use of the word ‚can’t‘. No matter what it was about they kept telling me you got no legs, you can’t do this and that. ‚You won’t be able to walk, and there is no way of running, at least there is no way of being successful on an international level, there is no chance of winning a medal at the paralympic games…‘ and I would be able to find thousands of more ‚can’ts‘ they told me.

Let me tell you something. If you put your mind on something you can reach anything! I am wearing my artificial legs all day long cause yes I am walking and no I got no wheelchair. I am running competitive and I won 5 medals in world games and world championships. But there is still one unfinished business: bringing home a paralympic medal.

Putting my mind on this goal I moved to oklahoma city. My coach calls ‚can’t‘ the ‚c-word‘. Never ever say the ‚c-word‘ when he is around. Beeing here since 10 days now I already started clearing my life of ‚can’ts‘. Yesterday he wanted me to do a sand workout. I know even for single below knee amputees it is one of the hardest things to run in sand with a blade. And as I’m used to the german attitude I said ‚there is no way of running in the sand for and double above knee amputee!‘ As usual he wasn’t accepting a ‚can’t and I knew he won’t give up unless I at least try so I just did what he said. And let me tell you something. The first seconds weren’t easy at all but after a few steps it was more then doable. It was insane hard but I’m so happy that my coach made me doing this. I can’t wait for next weeks sand workoutto come.

Cozy Sunday

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. In germany eveything’s closed so it’s just you, the beautiful love from your friends and family and your cozy home.

my appartment is one of my most loved places on earth. I love sitting on the couch having a hot tea and watch some episodes of my fav series OC California. I light on some candles so the whole room smells like a mix of vanilla-nougat and green tea. I think it’s very healthy to spend some time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person. It learns you more about yourself.

So here are some snapshots from my little peaceful world:

 

 

 

 

 

It´s a bad day not a bad life

When times are tough you always have to remember its a bad day, not a bad life. We are all human and we all go through failures and frustrations. Don´t fight the change, better embrace it and you´ll find yourself in a place you never could have imagined! I am so grateful getting so much love and support from my family and for having all the amazing people in my life supporting the path that I am on. I am feeling so blessed to be here representing the sport that is so close to my heart. Life truly is wonderful even on it´s bad days.