Winterize your immune system with tips from a pro skier.
To me, the November chill gets me more excited than Christmas morning. It means winter is on the way and the ski season is about to kick off. It’s a signal that I need to get down to business. As a professional skier, I spend the cold months hunting down untracked snow, climbing mountains, and skiing down them. I train all year to be at my physical peak for winter, but as you’ve probably experienced, one measly cold can bring your health and fitness levels crashing down and leaving you feeling like all the work you’ve put in has unravelled. Therefore, it is my top priority to avoid getting sick. My immunity plan includes good nutrition, rest and supplements. Read on to learn a few of the tricks I’ve learned over my years as a professional athlete.
Anna Segal, Pro Freestyle Skier & Former Olympian
Veggies, veggies, veggies! I try to base my meals around vegetables to enable my body to take in as many vitamins and micronutrients as possible. I also try to add ‘anti-inflammatory’ foods and spices into as most of my meals as possible. A couple of easy ones are cinnamon, turmeric and ginger.
I have a few go-to chefs and cooking blogs that I rely on to keep my healthy winter meals fun.
- The Healthy Chef- Teresa Cutter is an Australian chef, nutritionist and trainer. She has hundreds of recipes online for free. I love her website as she explains the health benefits of each of the ingredients in her dishes.
- Oh She Glows – Canadian Angela Liddon has delicious vegan meals that are interesting and easy to make.
- Ketotarian – This mostly plant based Keto focused recipe book has changed how I cook. Including more plant-based fats into my diet has helped me beat sugar cravings that usually peak during the cold winter months.
For most of my life I’ve underestimated the healing powers of sleep. I used to sacrifice hours of sleep to fit in training, school, work and my social life. Then I would wonder why I wasn’t recovering from my work-outs and catching colds on the regular. When I did have chance to get some extra ZZZs, I was often so stressed that I couldn’t fall asleep. It’s taken me some time and research to figure out these destructive patterns, but here’s what I’ve learned:
- Listen to your body. If it is unusually sore, or you feel run down, take a day (or two) off your training regime and use it to rest and recover
- Take an Epsom salt bath. Even if you’re not a bath person… it’s cheap, will warm you up, aids muscle recovery and will help you relax before bed.
- Use the early winter darkness to your advantage. If you’re feeling it, go to bed a little earlier and get an extra hour of sleep!
- I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before – but stop staring at your screen before bed! Give yourself at least an hour of screen free time before you switch off the lights.
When possible I try to get the majority of my vitamins, minerals and nutrients from my food. But often in the winter I’m on the road and don’t have full control over the type of food I’m eating. There are also times when I feel my body just needs an extra boost. I use Ener-C on the daily, and have just started taking the new Sugar-Free formula. It not only makes my water taste delicious, but it gives me a daily dose of all the good stuff and keeps me in line with my attempts to reduce sugar intake. My second go-to is Ki’s Immune Defence and Energy formula, which uses traditional Chinese herbs to boost the body’s immune system. I’ll take one of these a day when I’m travelling, to increase my chances of staying cold and flu-free!
Written by Anna Segal, an Australian Olympic freestyle slopestyle skier and two-time world champion who lives, works and plays in beautiful Pemberton, BC.