Rio 2016: 13 Olympians on their workouts, diets and body confidence

Olympic-athletes-body-confidence-04
Photography by Vincent Graton

The countdown to Rio 2016 is on, and who better to inspire us to lead healthier lifestyles (and perhaps become more comfortable in our swimwear and crop-tops) than Team Canada’s female Olympic athletes. And while you might think that being an athlete equates to instant self confidence, that’s not the case for these athletes, who often need to watch their weight closely in order to optimize performance—and that includes not getting too light when you’re a heavyweight wrestler.

Beyond attaining killer body confidence, there’s much to learn on how to lead our healthiest lifestyles yet—without obsessing over every calorie (one athlete has to eat up to 6,000 calories a day!). Each athlete has her fitness and nutrition recipe for success, and you can, too. Here are the tips and tricks from our very own Olympic team on what makes them feel strong, confident and happy (there might be beer and chips involved). Get to know our athletes now so you can cheer them on.

A photo posted by Stephanie Labbé (@stephlabbe1) on

Stephanie Labbé, 29
Goalkeeper, Soccer
Edmonton

What kind of skills does your sport require?
For me, it’s all about being powerful and strong, so a lot of the workouts I do are more explosive, a lot more power-oriented, whereas maybe for some of the players it’s a lot more endurance-based and a lot more speed. One of my biggest strengths is that I’m a very quick goalkeeper, I’m very reactive, so I really work on strength and power.

What has your Olympic Journey been like up to this point?
When I was really young, I played all different types of sports. Then, when I was about 11, I started to really focus on soccer. From there I never looked back. Along the way, there were a lot of times when a coach told me, “You’re not good enough” and that only motivated me to keep going. I went to university in the States on a scholarship and then I became a pro after that when I was 22. For me, it’s always been about challenging myself, putting myself out there and trying new things.

What does your training program entail?
Every day is completely different. Most days consist of two hours on the field and then a couple times a week it consists of an hour or two in the gym. Within every day there’s the constants: In the mornings, I meditate to start my day. It’s the biggest thing I do that’s changed my life, just meditating, being a lot more present, being mindful with what I’m doing.

What’s your nutrition like? Any indulgences?
There’s no strict diet. It’s everything in moderation. I’m never going to deprive myself of something if I want it. It’s more about the timing and when it’s right to have it. I know I can’t be eating greasy things or very sugary things before any big competitions, but after? Why not?

How do you feel about your body?
It’s human nature to compare yourself to others and to see other people’s bodies and be like, “Oh, I wish that I looked like that”—especially with social media these days. Of course, I’ve been challenged and it’s been a hard journey, but I think my biggest focus is to be the best version of myself every day. Sport brings that individuality and we value the uniqueness of people and what they can bring to a sport.

So I was going to ask you about pushing through a work out, if you don’t want to do it how do you get yourself to do it?
Yeah, that happens all the time. I always think about what my competition is doing. That’s really what drives me: I picture my competition doing those extra five reps and I think, “You know what, I’m going to do six because I need to do more than them.”

Do you have any motivation advice for people who might be in a rut with exercise or taking care of their health?
I think with active lifestyles, we see this mostly with kids—you put yourself out there to be in sports to challenge yourself, which is so important in building confidence and self-esteem. That’s why I’m extremely excited to be apart of this #LikeAGirl campaign with Always. We’re pushing the boundaries and pushing the fact that sports can bring out this different side in you. You build such good qualities, such as teamwork and confidence, and learning to work with people toward a common goal.

Do any moments stand out for you where you remember feeling really confident in your body or about your strength? Or on the other side where you felt really bad about yourself and it forced you to reassess your situation?
Yeah for sure, I went through a really hard time in 2012. I got to this point where I was constantly overanalyzing things that were completely out of my control. I was so focused on what the coaches were thinking about me, what other people were doing. I kind of played the “poor me” game and it really started to hit my confidence and self-esteem. It made me feel really low about myself and it started to affect was my happiness. I dreaded going to the soccer field because I knew that I would just step onto the field and start focusing on all these things. In 2012, I took that year away from the national team and I just played with my professional team, and through that I started to get back to my passion and what really made me love the sport. I got to this place where I started focusing on what I can control: my work ethic and then being a good teammate. It’s not about what other people think about you; it’s about how you perceive yourself and what you believe yourself. That’s what’s really taken me to a new level in my career.

A photo posted by Emilie Fournel (@minifournel) on

Émilie Fournel, 29
Canoe – Kayak Sprint
Montreal

What has your Olympic journey been like up to this point?
It has been a four-year process. To be at the top level of is, of course, about committing to all of the training and making sure you train hard and follow your coaches lead, but it is also about choosing a healthy lifestyle all the time. What is the most difficult with what I do is being away all the time. Being a kayaker in Canada is great because we have so many beautiful place to paddle, but it comes at a price that is called winter. I have to leave for training camp all winter and then add all the months when we are away competing. I love travelling and I have met so many nice people all over the world, but being away from home that much is always the hardest part.

What does your training program entail?
I train around 30 hours a week. I paddle twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, and in the middle I have an off-water training session—either gym, run or Pilates. I also have a physio appointment and a massage once a week to keep my body working. I go to bed pretty early and I am up early also.

What’s your nutrition like? Any indulgences?
I find that when I train hard my body usually craves healthy foods. I have become the master at five-minute meals because usually when I come back from training I am so hungry there is no time for recipes! I make good nutritious food in the less amount of time possible. I love fruits, vegetable, fish, eggs, bread and rice. I obviously indulge in my favourite foods. My mom used to tell me there were not four but five food groups in the Canadian food guide—the fifth group being the happiness group, foods that make you happy! I love ice cream and chocolate and wine. I find that by not limiting myself, I don’t create a big deal with eating or not eating “bad food.” That being said, kayaking is basically pulling myself and my kayak, so it is certain that around competition we are always conscious of weight.

Any hangover prevention tips?
Know your limits the night before. Enjoy your glass of wine, and enjoy your second glass even slower. You will have as much fun and will feel better in the morning.

Have you ever had any issues with feeling confident about how you look or how much you weigh?
We do so much training and it transforms our body. For me, I feel pretty self-conscious when I go shopping. Not many girls my height have as broad shoulders as I do, and finding shirts that fit is not an easy task—dresses are even worse. You learn to shop in the right stores. I am proud of my muscles because I work so hard to get them and I need them to be successful, but it sometimes feels not so feminine. I have a confession: Sometimes I shop in the little boy’s section for T-shirts—they fit better.

What are your views on #fitspo and how women might aspire to specific body ideals?
I think forcing your body into being something that it is not meant to be isn’t a healthy relationship with yourself. I think sport is a great way to find a happy balance with your body and discover new things to love about it. Every sport requires different body types and anyone can find something that can transform the way they feel in their own body. You don’t need to look like a model or Beyoncé to be successful. You can have big arms, be sweaty, have a ponytail that’s not professionally styled and still look great and be successful. Being a female Canadian athlete is a role I take seriously.

When you’re pushing through a workout and you really don’t want to do it, what do you tell yourself?
I like the quote: You only get out what you put in. Hard work pays off. In order to achieve my goals, I know I have to go to bed every night with no regrets. Training hard is just part of the job. I always say the hardest part is to put your shoes on, or get in your boat. Once you’re there, it’s easy to give your 100 per cent.

What other self-care measures are part of your life?
I try to stretch often, drink water, sleep early. I find walking is, for me, a way to relax. It’s meditative and peaceful.

Any motivation advice for people who can’t seem to exercise?
The hardest part is to get there. Once you are there, you won’t regret you did. Plan it in your weekly schedule and stick to it. The second most important thing is finding an exercise that you love! Try different ones until you find something you truly enjoy and look forward to. If I didn’t have fun kayaking, I wouldn’t be doing it anymore!

Do any particular anecdotes stand out about a time you felt really confident in your body, or, conversely, a time that you felt really insecure?
Just before the London Olympics in 2012 I had to go bridesmaid dress shopping. My best friend was getting married right when I would be coming back from the Games and we had a two-day window before I left to go pick out a dress. As mentioned, shopping isn’t the easiest thing for me. I was a the top of my form and muscles were everywhere—let’s just say the sales ladies from the shops were in for a challenge—and for a bit of entertainment!

Brianne Theisen-Eaton, 27
Heptathlon
Humboldt, Sask.

What does your training program entail?
Monday, Wednesday and Friday are our hard training days (two technical events and a running workout). Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are our easier days (throwing events and lifting). Sunday is off.

What kind of skills does your sport require?
I do the heptathlon, so seven track and field events over two days, always in the same order: two jumping events, two throwing events and three running events. It takes a lot of explosive speed and power.

What has your Olympic journey been like up to this point?
I basically have no friends where I live, so no social life. I don’t get to see my family very much, only a couple times a year. I miss out on a lot of celebrations and holidays. There’s a lot of stress with a life like this, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

What’s your nutrition like? Any indulgences?
From May to August, we get pretty strict with our diet and don’t eat ANY bad food, including sauces like ketchup or cream for our coffee). For the rest of the year, we just eat what we want (just the healthier version of everything) and indulge every once in a while.

How do you feel about your body—have you ever had any issues with feeling confident about how you look or how much you weigh?
I think every girl competing in track feels self-conscious about their body at one point. I mean, you’re basically wearing a bathing suit. But, generally, no. I know I work hard and I have confidence that my body transitions to where it needs to be.

When you’re pushing through a workout and you really don’t want to do it, what do you tell yourself?
I know this might sound weird, but I can’t remember the last time I didn’t want to do a workout. I enjoy working out and love the burn of a really hard workout.

Olympic-athletes-body-confidence-03

Carling Zeeman, 25
Rowing, Single Sculls
Cambridge, Ont.

What are some of the challenges with your body? I’m assuming it’s a lot of back work, so are you always doing therapy for your back?
That’s actually a pretty common misconception that a lot of the injuries you see in rowing are back related, but often it’s lower back- or rib-related—your ribs can’t sustain the load that your legs have put on them—so essentially you’re breaking your own ribs. What we do for that is kind of incorporate that into our strength program where it’s focusing a lot more on stability in the small muscles to be able to support the money makers, so it’s crucial for us not to neglect the small in-between steps I guess.

How many hours a week are you training?
I would say anywhere between four and six hours a day and then six days a week. So somewhere around 30 hours.

As rowers do you have to consume thousands of calories a day to sustain yourself?
Yeah, it’s quite a bit with all the cardio I guess. I think it sort of ranges, obviously there’s lightweight and heavyweight and the lightweights eat a little bit less than most, but I’ve seen lightweights actually pack it in. I would say somewhere in between 3,000 and 6,000 calories for women—it’s sort of a wide range because there’s a wide range of girls. For guys, I think it can go up to 8,000.

So that’s a fun sport for the eating. Do you have a specific diet? Are you on a program that allows you to indulge in wine or desserts?
I’m definitely not on a diet. Rowing Canada provides a nutritionist for us, and what she does is educate and teach us how and what we eat is going to fuel us the best and then from there. If a glass of wine a night makes you go faster, have a glass of wine at night. It’s still different for everyone and I think definitely that your body craves what it needs, so a lot of the time I crave chips, so I eat a ton of chips.

In terms of body confidence, have you ever felt discomfort with how your body looks or how it works?
I’ve been pretty respectful of my body throughout the years of training. I just love that when I’m racing or training I can see the direct results of what I’ve just done and it’s like, “Wow, you just did that, good for you!” Definitely I would almost say it’s a sense of pride. As long as I go fast, who cares what I look like? Or as long as I’m happy. It’s everyone else’s problem if they don’t like the way I look I guess.

What have you had to give up to get to where you are now?
My social life has become my teammates so I don’t go out on weekends—rarely, even if I do have the time to do something, it’s mostly spent recovering because I’m so exhausted from the week of training, so it’s a tough balance. Sometimes my outside friends will want to do something when they know I have breaks in my schedule, but it’s not always possible because I’m sleeping I’m so tired. It’s a little bit of give and take though because you kind of have to figure out who your friends are and who’s going to wait it out with you. Also, I’ve developed incredibly close relationships with my teammates. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Is there any weird thing you do that is related to a ritual or something that someone would find unusual?
To calm my mind, I definitely love having a beer with my roommates after training. They’re like, “You can’t drink beer after working out” and I’m like, “Well, watch me!”

A photo posted by Erica Wiebe (@eweebz) on

Erica Wiebe, 27
Wrestling, Heavyweight
Stittsville, Ont.

What kinds of skills does the sport require?

You need to be strong, you need to be agile, you need to be able to last six minutes with someone pushing down on you and fighting you.

What’s the reaction you normally get when somebody asks you what you do?
Yeah, when I say I wrestle, they’re like “you don’t look like a wrestler!”

And you’re like, “What do you imagine a wrestler would look like?”
Yeah, exactly! I guess everyone has a pretty weird misconception about what it looks like. And, “Oh, you wrestle? Do you think you could take me down?” is usually question number two.

What does your training schedule look like?
We lift every day—our strength and conditioning is in the morning for about two hours and that’s about three days a week. And then two days a week we do more energy system prep and conditioning, and then in the evenings we wrestle!

What’s your nutrition plan like? Can you go out for dinners with friends or have the odd drink or ice cream or coffee?
I really believe in everything in moderation. I try to eat healthy every day and really fuel myself toward performance, because when you eat well you feel really well. We have some guidelines. I do need to eat a lot of carbs; it’s somewhere in between a rower and a swimmer eating 10,000 calories a day—we’re not crazy like that, but we need to make sure we have the energy to fuel ourselves. So for breakfast I always try to have a well balanced diet, so I’ll always have a protein, two carbs and a fat for breakfast, and lots of coffee—that’s its own food group.

Do you get a “cheat” allowance or if you just had ice cream would that be considered kind of like a fat?
Yeah, that would definitely be a treat. And I really try to minimize it to three cheats a week.

What do you do if your friends are going out to eat—can you go, too?
When it comes to like eating, I always try to recommend healthy restaurant and I think the restaurant industry has gotten much better at providing options for healthy eating. And then in terms of drinking, there’s the peer pressure. “Oh, why aren’t you drinking? Have a glass of wine.” It’s like, you know, I’m fine with my diet coke.

Do you find that drinking impacts your performance a lot?
Yeah, I always equate it to in university when you’re studying for a test: It would be like working on your study notes all week and then throwing them out the night before an exam.

How you feel about your body and how has that changed over the years?
It’s a process, and you know it’s an everyday thing that you have to deal with because you’re constantly bombarded with these expectations of how you’re supposed to look in the media and the magazines and now there’s this secondary expectation as an athlete. “Oh, you’re and Olympic athlete? You don’t look like an Olympic athlete,” and it’s like, “Well, you know I do train 10 times a week.” Sometimes I feel like it’s like you get to Hogwarts and you realize you can’t do any magic, so you kind of have to fake it ’til you make it in a way. No one has the perfect body, but if you have the confidence to just be out the world, I think that’s really more important than having the perfect body. There is no perfect body, but there is a perfect mindset.

Are there any moments when you get self-conscious?
Yeah, I think wrestling has provided me with a really cool mindset because in wrestling, there are so many different body types and there are so many different ways to win. There are short people, long people, people with massive shoulders, people with massive legs—there are all sorts of different body types in the sport of wrestling that are able to have success. Maybe I don’t have a typical wrestler body or maybe I look a little bit different than some of the people I compete against, but I just use the tools I have and find a way to win. So, my body is the tool that I have to wrestle and I guess I have to be happy. I have these shortcomings in wrestling but I also have these strengths. So it’s the same in the real world: I have things I love about my body and things I wish that I could change.

Are there any other self-care measures that are part of your life like, meditation, massage and physic?
Yeah, I do a lot of visualization. Just positive self-talk and visualization, because I really feel that if you don’t love yourself and if you don’t know and have confidence in your ability—and in wrestling, if you don’t think you’re going to win, then no one else is—no one else is going to wrestle for you. I think it goes back to that body image thing: you have to love yourself, you’re the most important person in your life.


Olympic-athletes-body-confidence-05

Emily Batty, 28
Mountain Biking
Brooklin, Ont.

What kind of skills do you have to work on for your sport?
You think cycling and you think legs, but it’s such a demanding full-body workout—your core and your arms and your shoulders and your back and everything is kind of being activated. For my training, definitely at different times of the year I will change what I’m focusing on. The winter months are long base miles on the bike, but then also a lot of gym work: building that strength and muscle mass, because strength ultimately will be what allows you to be one with the bike.

What has your Olympic journey been up until this point? What have you had to give up to get here?
I love that question! To be honest, it’s something I am learning as I’m going along. I’ve always known it’s a huge sacrifice to be a full-time professional athlete—I’ll never take it for granted because I’m always so grateful for my sponsors, family and husband that have put so much into it. But definitely it’s a sacrifice. I haven’t been to a single friend’s wedding, I haven’t been to a single baby shower, I miss every family occasion, birthdays, I miss Christmas every year. I miss every special traditional occasions to be either at a race or at a training camp. It’s 24/7. I think the higher you get in a sport, the more it demands from you. Not being home, and I have a beautiful garden, yard and a pool and I can’t enjoy that because I’m travelling all year. And I think just being able to shop when you want and go places and do normal things. You’re always so focused on recovery because that’s equally as important as the training aspect, so that’s another sacrifice.

Given all of the scarifies, what keeps you motivated?
Oh my gosh, so I’m so close and every world cup is a different top three ranked athletes. So I might be second one week, but I might be fifth the next week, so always trying to be the best is definitely what keeps me motivated. Quite frankly, not being the best and being kind of that underdog but still getting podiums almost every week is what’s kept me so motivated.

What’s your nutrition plan like? Do you have room in it for treats?
Yeah, I kind of have a sweet tooth, like after a race usually you’re so deprived of sugar from the race demand itself, a go-to would be Swedish fish or Swedish berries. Then yeah, keeping it real, we’re all human, so for the few days I am home for the summer sitting by the pool, which is a rare occurrence, you know busting out the fruity summer cocktails and enjoying family when I can.

Do you have a nutrition coach who helps keep you on track during your season?
Yeah, my husband is also my coach, and nutrition is something that is of a huge importance for athletes in general. Something I have done for the last five years is become entirely gluten-free. I have not been diagnosed with celiac, but I definitely have an intolerance for it. I have a Vitamix, so I’ll usually have a green smoothie a day.

In terms of fitspo and more general for women who might compare themselves to athletes, or certain body ideals or people in the gym who are showing off their six pack, do you have any advice?
I think we all get wrapped up and I’ll be guilty at times of getting wrapped up in other people’s image, but we don’t know what that person’s had to do to get to that look. I think it’s pretty obvious that any shape and any fitness level—as long as you’re in the gym—is sexy, and that’s kind of what’s hot. Don’t try to be somebody that you’re looking at on an Instagram photo, because you don’t know what work has been done to that photo, and I think you just have to be real with yourself and then just be proud of what you’ve got going on and rock it.

How many hours do you train per week?
The actual hours on the bike in the winter season are quite heavy and anywhere from 18 to 25 hours on the bike, but then five hours in the gym on top of that. Once you start travelling and racing. it kind of decreases because you just don’t have the time to get on the bike, so things become shorter and more intense, so mid-season anywhere from 13 to 19 hours you’re on the bike.

Olympic-athletes-body-confidence-04

Athletes: Fab IV (Pictured, from left: Jennifer Abel, 24, Laval, Que.; Meaghan Benfeito, 27, Montreal; Roseline Filion, 29, Laval, Que.; Pamela Ware, 23, Beloeil, Que.)
Sport: Diving (individual and synchro)

What are the specific skills you need to get really good at this particular sport?
Roseline: In diving, what we really need to be a strong competitor is definitely power, flexibility, precision and definitely confidence. It’s all about when you get on that board or platform, when you throw yourself off, if you’re not confident the dive will not look so great, so it’s all about finishing strong and going for the entry—be as pretty as you can and make the dive look easy.

As a team, how has your journey been up to this point? Is there anything you have had to give up to get to this point?
Meaghan: We have a lot of sacrifices. I think the one thing that we sort of had to give up would be school. The four of us train so much, we travel a lot, so it was hard to really keep up with school. It’s not something that we want to give up because we all think it’s very important and we all want to go back, but diving right now is very important to us and we really wanted to give it everything we had to make sure that we get to the Olympics and we’re ready.

What’s your training like?
Jennifer: So we are all training around 25 hours per week, so from 9:30 a.m. till 4 p.m., five days a week.

Is it always at the pool or are you doing some weight training, dance or flexibility?
Jennifer: You have two weight training sessions. Obviously we do a lot of stretching, we have a warm-up to do also and we will practise our dive on the dry land. After that we will go in the water for around an hour and a half and we will practise our dive.

I’m not sure if there is one of you in particular who might have ever struggled with body image, but how do you feel about your body? Have you ever had issues with how you look or how much you weigh?

Roseline: For me, it was very difficult at one point because the transition from being a kid to a teenager to an adult is very confusing at times. For me, it was a difficult time. I was not always at my best self when I was in my young 20s, so I really had the help of my fitness coach and my nutritionist. I’ve been working with them for seven years just to understand how to eat, to be educated about food and make it fun and not seem like food is an enemy. Now, it’s stupid to say it, but it’s a friend, you need it. Now that I understand what I need to do, my body has changed a lot and I feel a lot more comfortable with myself now and pretty strong.

Rosie, what do you think about people going on Instagram or comparing themselves to others, and looking to get a certain body ideal? What advice would you give them?
Roseline: It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror and accepting who you are and accepting your curves and loving them. It’s who you are, you’re stuck with that body, so you need to take good care of it. You can get inspiration, but trying to compare yourself to others is the worst thing to do. I feel like the partnership with Venus and empowering women is really the key to success. It’s really important for me and I’m proud of the Fab IV girls for being supported by Venus and Gillette, so it’s a really big part of feeling great about your image and empowering women.

When you’re in your bathing suit, what kind of things do you do to make sure you feel confident?
Jennifer: It’s very important for us to feel confident in our body, like you said we are in bathing suits all the time, so there is not much of our body that is not seen on TV. It’s very important for us to have a very smooth body and legs, and we shave our legs with the Venus Swirl because it makes us feel more confident, and when we see the Venus women on TV they are strong women that embrace their bodies. So it’s very important to us when we stand on the board to enjoy that moment and embrace our body.

Back to workouts and goals: When you don’t achieve a goal, how do you deal with the disappointment and get back up?
Meaghan: When you fail at a competition or when you do really bad, it’s always a learning process you can’t put yourself down because it happens to everybody. There’s no one that’s in a sport or during the career that there’s not going to be a low, and you have to take that as a learning process. As soon as you don’t do well, you have to figure out what didn’t go well, come back home and work harder. Learn from every mistake and try not to make them again.

Kirsten Sweetland, 27
Triathlon
Nanaimo, BC

Can you start by telling me about your sport—what skills does it require?
Triathlon is a pretty unique sport in that it involves three sports melted into one, which is actually quite unique in that it’s very different from each of the sports it’s comprised of. Balancing the training is quite difficult as the load is quite high to become good at three sports! The main skill is being able to run fast on tired legs after swimming and biking.

What has your Olympic journey been like up to this point? What have you had to give up to get here?
My Olympic journey has been one for the books! I’ve been in the selection process for three Olympics now! I’ve suffered nine stress fractures in my feet and hips, two torn plantar fascia, two concussions, a parasite, a bacterial infection and toxic mould illness! We put our bodies through a lot! This is an unusual amount of troubles though. I don’t like to think of it as having given things up. They are all choices you make for what you really want. So if I skip a local music festival for training, for example, I don’t see it as having given up the festival but having chosen to travel the world representing my country while doing what I love.

What does your training program entail, on any regular week?
I train about 25 hours a week doing aerobic exercise. Swimming about 20 to 25 kilometres a week, biking about 250 kilometres and running about 75 kilometres. I also do gym work and spend time in physio and massage.

What is your nutrition like? Can you indulge in the odd treat or glass of wine?
I’m of the opinion that if you exercise 25 hours a week, no one’s going to notice a treat a day! In fact, it feels almost necessary. I also enjoy a glass of wine with dinner a few nights a week.

Any hangover prevention tips?
Well, I don’t often drink to the point where one might get a hangover. In the off-season we do have a few good nights and I always get up right away the next morning, have a coffee, go for a run or fresh air of some sort and then make a smoothie and I’m yet to have a real hangover.

How do you feel about your body—have you ever had an issue with feeling confident about how you look or how much you weigh?
Given the nature of our event, running in a swimsuit, of course we notice our bodies. It’s something for me that I’ve grown into, understanding the value of certain things for speed over aesthetics. Of course from a performance standpoint you do need to monitor to an extent.

What are your views on #fitspo and how women might sometimes aspire to a certain body ideal? Any advice?
I think everything in moderation is always a good method. If your body ideal is a healthy target and maybe you weren’t living your healthiest lifestyle before then I think #fitspo is fantastic! It’s when something becomes an obsession or is getting in the way of important family or social things that maybe the internet #fitspo stuff can get a little out of hand.

When you don’t achieve a goal, how do you deal?
This has been a pretty frequent occurrence for me. I’ve always had the ability to achieve my goals but freak things keep happening that slow the process! I just take one step at a time and never panic. I also hold the belief that one day it will happen. If you don’t get down on yourself you can get right back to work and your chances of making it happen next time are that much greater! I also don’t define myself by my achievements, so if they don’t happen, I still know that I have X, Y, Z going for me and I’m happy with my life!

What other self-care measures are part of your life?
I have started regular 10-minute meditations this year, which was encouraged by one of my sponsors, Lululemon. This has been fantastic for staying centred and grounded during tough times. I also get a massage every week or second week and chiropractic work and/or physio depending on how I’m feeling. If I’m really sore I’ll have an ice bath, but that takes a lot of soreness to make that happen!

Any motivation advice for people who can’t seem to exercise?
Getting out the door is the hardest part! And even if it’s uncomfortable, stick with it and it gets easier and easier to the point where it’s purely enjoyable.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Catharine Pendrel, 35
Mountain Biking
Fredericton

What skills does your sport require?
Cross-country mountain bike races are 90 minutes long, so they require endurance. You start with 60 to 100 women, so you also need speed if you want to get into the single track ahead of the competition. We race laps, which usually includes going up steep climbs, down rock faces and over jumps and root-strewn trails. You need solid and smooth technical skills, confidence and a taste for adventure!

What has your Olympic journey been like up to this point? What have you had to give up to get here?
I have always believed that if you’re doing what you love, then you aren’t sacrificing anything—you are making choices. The hardest part is the time you spend away from home. I would love more weekends at home to explore mountains and trails without a training agenda, but right now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What does your training program entail, on any regular week?
Summer training weeks typically include 18 to 22 hours on the bike, plus yoga, core and upper-body work. I incorporate mountain bike skills training every other day. Monday is always a rest day. You can’t get faster if you do not let your body recover!

What do you wear to train? How does it differ from your everyday wear?
On the bike, Lycra! It’s the best for comfort and cooling. My Oakley Radar EV Path Green Fade Edition sunglasses are essential. They’re perfect for the changing light conditions on the trail.

What is your beauty regimen like when you train or after you train? What are three products on your beauty top shelf?
Sunscreen—I rock a pretty good farmer’s tan but try to protect my skin. Moisturizer, as my skin is exposed to the weather so much and prone to drying out. And lastly tinted lashes.

Heather Bansley, 28
Beach Volleyball
London, Ont.

What is your training like day-to-day training?
Typically I train on the beach in the sand with my teammate and our coach for two hours. And then afterward we have a small break and then go to the gym and have a gym session that’s strength and conditioning with weights and a little bit of rehab mixed in. Then, afterward, sometimes we’ll have a physiotherapy appointment or I’ll have an appointment with a sports psych. In between all of that, it’s always thinking about it and being mindful of our nutrition.

What do you eat to help enhance performance?
I always try to have protein with every meal just to give me the energy I need and to help keep my muscles strong. Especially after a workout, you need to repair those muscles. I eat eggs, fish, chicken, meat and a lot of vegetables, too. Salads are my favourite.

What are some indulgences?
For me, it’s all about moderation. You have to allow yourself to have those breaks and that time off just mentally as well. I love dark chocolate and on the weekend I like a nice glass of red wine. Also, croissants are my guilty pleasure.

It seems like everybody is all about appearances when it comes to working out, but are you thinking about how you look or are you more about performance?
I do everything for performance. My body is my tool and that’s how I make my living. So I have to treat it really well to make sure that it performs. So it’s about doing what’s best for my sport and being the best beach volleyball player and athlete. With that, as an outcome, I’m in good shape and whatever. You know, it is tough because we are in a bikini competing, so we’re on show for the world to see, but it’s also about being proud of my muscles and being proud of my strength and what my body can do.

What do you look for when choosing your workout wear?
I like to find something that’s a little bit tighter so that it stays on and it keeps sand out and for tops, I like to find something that’s going to give me enough support but is also, you know, relatively breathable because we’re outside playing in the sun and in heat. A bikini is the most practical thing to wear for us because heavy clothes just get sweaty and sandy, and that can really weigh you down. In the gym, I’ll wear a variety of things—long tights, tank tops, T-shirts and shorts. I do really like the Luon that Lululemon has because it’s sweat-wicking. With Lululemon, we wear it when we’re working out and on the court and it is so comfortable that it definitely transitions to my life outside of sport. (See the brands Olympic collection here.)

What do you do on your days off usually?
A lot of times, I just rest and relax. If we’re training in California—that’s where we spend most of our pre-season and our time in between tournaments during the season—I do like to go to the beach. I like to go swimming, stand-up paddle boarding and hiking.

What is your beauty regimen like on the court and off?
Before I step onto the court or even when I put my swimsuit on, I use a lot of sunscreen. We’re in the sun so much that I want to protect my skin, because I’ve been playing beach volleyball for eight or nine years now and it’s a lot of sun exposure. I try to wear a natural sunscreen because I want to be aware of the chemicals that I’m putting onto my body. I also wear a visor. Afterward, I use a light exfoliator to help get some of the sunscreen and sand off. I use a lot of moisturizer, too.