Common Diet Myths Explained (part 2)

Which diet should you choose?

Ever suffered from information overload when deciding what diet to try?
What can we believe when the advice seems to change from one day to the next?
Are you confused.com?

In a previous post we looked at the ‘Low Carb’ and the ‘Low Fat’ diets – digging into the merits and flaws of each. In this post we will be looking a little more closely at the ‘Alkaline Diet’, the ‘Paleo Diet’, the ‘Keto Diet’…

The Alkaline Diet

What is it?

This diet makes the odd claim that a diet rich in alkaline foods can reduce the risk of getting Cancer by raising the pH of our bodies.  This diet recommends a high intake of fruit and vegetables, but also severely limits portions of grains, dairy, meat and fish – usually understood to be very healthy.

The Alkaline Diet Myth-Buster

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that alkaline-rich foods can combat the risk of Cancer. Aside from this, our bodies naturally regulate the pH levels within our body to within a specific range (7.35 – 7.45) regardless of our diet.

The limits put on grains, dairy, meat and fish, could potentially have the effect of increasing your risk of some vitamin deficiencies and may also lead to protein deficiency – particularly if you are someone who exercises at a high intensity regularly. 

This diet would not be suitable for anyone aiming for muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) – the advice to achieve this training outcome is to eat four to five meals a day, each containing 20 – 30 grams of protein. 


The Ketogenic (‘Keto’) Diet

What is it?

The Keto diet is the ‘ultimate’ low carb diet. In this diet, the amount of carbs allowed is limited to 5 – 10% of total daily intake. For comparison, the average diet in the UK (based on 2,000 calories per day) will comprise an average of 50-60% carbs! Unlike many other diets that we have looked at, The Keto diet also suggests that fats will make up a huge 60 – 70% and the remaining 20 – 30% will be protein.  

Why Keto?

The idea behind this diet is that a very low glucose (carbohydrate) intake will result in a depletion of glycogen (sugar) stores within the body and as a result the body will instead use fat to produce ketones, which can be used for energy. More fat burn = more fat loss!

The Keto Myth-Buster

Whole foods (foods like whole-wheat bread, pasta, potato and grains) are avoided in this diet. These foods provide the majority of our fibre intake, and therefore the lack of fibre in this diet can have negative impacts on the body – it is particularly responsible for the frequent unfortunate side effect of diarrhoea as fibre is what makes sure our poo stays healthy! 

Regardless of the proportion of fats, to carbs, to proteins, this diet will still only be effective in producing weight loss (also known as ‘fat loss’) if the calories expended exceed the calories consumed over the course of the day or week (e.g. calories in vs calories out). Fat loss may be rapid at the start, but this rate is unlikely to be maintained long term and weight regain is common. 

In addition, for those training regularly this diet may not provide enough carbohydrate energy in order to train at your best. A recent study found that the athletic performance of cyclists and runners was reduced after just four days on a ketogenic diet, compared with those on a high carb diet. 


The Paleolithic (‘Paleo’) Diet

What is it?

The Paleo diet priorities lean protein sources, and other foods that would have commonly been available to our ancestors during hunter-gatherer times. This primarily focuses on lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, nuts and seeds. This diet claims that our digestive systems are not well adapted to eating ‘modern day processed foods’ and that the ‘basic diet’ of our ancestors would be better for our health – specifically our gut health. It heavily restricts entire food groups (mostly grains and dairy) which are usually considered to be a healthy part of a balanced diet as they a good sources of fibre, resistant starch, proteins, calcium and vitamin D. 

The Paleo Diet Myth-Buster

Research shows that resistant starch is actually associated with improved markers for bowel health, which disagrees with the ‘science’ behind the Paleo Diet. In addition, research has found raised levels of a particular blood biomarker for heart disease in people following a Paleo diet – likely a result of the fact that the paleo diet is high in saturated fat. 

The Paleo Diet, like all diets, will only work for weight loss (fat loss) if the overall foods consumed in a day, or a week, result in a calorie deficit – so taking this as an oppotrunity to eat steak every day may not get you the results that you desire! Finally, this is an example of another diet that is very carb-lacking, so it is not ideal for individuals who are training regularly, at a high intensity.


Do you have questions about something you read in this article? Why not Ask The Instructor!

We are giving you the opportunity to have you health, fitness and nutrition questions answered by an expert member of our Gym Team. To get in touch, email your question to: grp-gymteam@groups.bristol.ac.uk and one of our team will get back to you!


Disclaimer: if you have any pre-existing medical condition, or are pregnant, please seek the advice of your GP before starting any self-administered diet. 

Changing the landscape of volunteering in Sport during lockdown!

What is Game Changers?

Game Changers is our Sport, Leadership & Volunteering programme, led by the University of Bristol Sport, Exercise and Health Division. The programme provides students on campus with the opportunity to gain valuable leadership and coaching experience, by volunteering in a Sports environment alongside our Sporting community partners. Throughout the free programme, students have widen their skill set through taking on specific training modules, workshops, and qualifications.

This year, as with many of our Sports programmes, our Game Changers were interrupted by UK lockdown. However, with help from the staff behind the programme, and flexibility and motivation of our students, we have been able to work with our community partners to continue the programme.

Over the past 12 weeks, our Game Changer volunteers and leaders have been working to deliver training and volunteering opportunities online. Below are some examples of how our Game Changers completed their award during lockdown…


Meet our Game Changers

Hannah

What year of study are you in? I am a 2nd Year Film and Television student

How did you hear about Game Changers? I heard about Game Changers through the Bristol Plus Award as I wanted to find an opportunity to volunteer whilst learning new skills.

What volunteering opportunities have you taken part in as part of the Game Changers programme? Before lockdown I planned to help with the Student-led Walking Tours – specifically I was going to lead a group to Mill Farm in Bristol, but unfortunately the walk was cancelled due to COVID-19. To lead this group I took part in an Event Management workshop as part of my training.

As a result of lockdown, I contacted Access Sport regarding a videography opportunity. Since then I have created an online awards platform for them, which digitally promoted their annual awards. In addition I used archive footage to compile a promotional video to for their initiatives. I have found this opportunity really beneficial as it has allowed me to develop my technical skills whilst supporting an important charity.

I hope to continue my volunteering for another 10 hours so that I can achieve the Advanced Game Changers award.


Solamipe

What year of study are you in? I’m currently in my 2nd year, studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

How did you hear about Game Changers? I heard about Game Changers while undertaking the Bristol PLUS Award. I found out about the Sport, Health and Exercise volunteering opportunities available, and I was particularly drawn to how you don’t have to be ‘sporty’ to take part in community outreach activities.

What volunteering opportunities have you taken part in as part of the Game Changers programme? Before lockdown, I participated in a Disability Inclusion workshop with Access Sport. This gave me an introduction to adapting physical activity to make it more inclusive. I found it an informative and engaging session about working with disadvantaged groups.

However, since the lockdown began, I have taken on some online volunteering for Zooniverse and helped find homes in Uganda to provide electricity. I have really appreciate how the Award was been adapted to enable me to still help and make a difference from my home.

Example of Solamipe’s volunteering

Jade

What year of study are you in? I’m currently in my 2nd year of a degree in Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

How did you hear about Game Changers? I first heard about Game Changers from a friend who was in the process of completing the award. This encouraged me to find out more about the program online. The structure of the Game Changers award was also explained as part of a Bristol Plus talk that I attended.

What volunteering opportunities have you taken part in as part of the Game Changers programme? Before lockdown, I attended a workshop organised by Access Sport. This provided training to volunteer at Bristol Children’s Hospital, leading fun sports sessions with current inpatients. The workshop was super fun and gave me valuable insight into sports leadership, disability inclusion and the need to adapt activities. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to run any sessions at the hospital before lockdown began.

Since lockdown, I have started volunteering with the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative. This is a tutoring platform that offers completely free tuition for those who might otherwise be unable to access tutoring. The aim is to reduce the educational inequalities which may be exacerbated during COVID-19 and learning at home. Seeing my ‘tutees’ progress and grow in confidence has been incredibly rewarding and it is fulfilling to know that I am supporting an initiative that is tackling important social issues.

I look forward to continuing to be a volunteer tutor during lockdown and possibly beyond!

I would definitely recommend this opportunity and Game Changers – it is really easy to start volunteering. I find it a rewarding way to spend time and remain connected with others during lockdown.


Find out more

If you are interested in taking part in the Game Changers programme next year (2020/21) you can find out more information on our website.

You can also email the Game Changers team to ask any questions: sport-active@bristol.ac.uk

Don’t forget to follow University of Bristol Sport, Exercise and Health on Facebook and Instagram for updates on when new Game Changers programmes will be starting, including pre-registration information evenings.

Common Diet Myths Explained (part 1)

Which diet should you choose?

Ever suffered from information overload when deciding what diet to try?
What can we believe when the advice seems to change from one day to the next?
Are you confused.com?

Outlined below are a few common myths that we tend to hear about different diets, to help you choose which – if any – is right for you.


The Low Carb Diet

What is it?

The Low Carb diet aims to achieve fat loss by limiting carbohydrate intake per day, without limiting your intake of fat and protein.

Why is it recommended?

Carbohydrates are made up of glucose molecules, and glucose is broken down in our bodies by a hormone called Insulin. When we consume more calories than our body needs, insulin stores the excess glucose (carbs) as fat within our cells. The theory behind this diet is that a reduced amount of carbohydrates will reduce the likelihood that fat will be stored in the body due to a reduction in the amount of insulin required to break down our food.

The Low Carb Myth-Buster

This is in fact incorrect. Insulin has not been proven to promote long-term fat storage in the body as people assume. Low carb diets can also be difficult to adhere to day -to-day and result in low mood and energy is not undertaken safely. Carbohydrates are our the preferred energy source for our brain and bodies, so if you’re engaging in any type of physical activity, consuming carbohydrates around training sessions is likely to actually improve your performance, endurance, and recovery.

The Low Fat Diet

Why eat low fat?

Low fat diets have been popular and widely advocated in recent years. Fat tends to be demonised in the fitness industry because of all of the macro-nutrients we consume (carbs, fats and proteins) it is more calorie dense. By this we mean that one gram of fat yields nine calories (units of energy) whilst one gram of carbohydrate yields on four calories. 

It is also widely publicised that a diet high in saturated fat is likely to raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and other associated conditions.

The Low Fat Myth-Buster

Focusing on the calorie difference between fats and carbs in itself is problematic as the energy from fats and from carbohydrates perform very different functions within the body.

Additionally, the findings of a recent study in the Lancet contradict the popular opinion that that a diet high in saturated fat is likely to raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. They found that diets low in saturated fat increased the risk of early death by 13% over those getting a higher percentage of their total caloire intake from fat. It was also found that eating a diet rich in fats actually reduced mortality by up to 23%.


A summary:

The NHS guidance for optimal health is that fats should contribute around 35% of daily calorie intake and carbs around 50% to stay in the sweet spot between the two extremes. While low carb diets can result in rapid weight loss, this is more likely due to a reduction in water-weight due to the fact that 1 gram of glycogen (carbohydrate molecule) is stored with up to 3 grams of water. S by reducing carbs you are reducing the associated water storage also. This means that high-speed weight loss is usually only maintained in the first few days. Long term comparisons of low carb and low fat diets find no significant difference in weight loss over one year. 

Choosing a diet is not as difficult as it looks!  It boils down to choosing a diet that, above all else, works for you and your lifestyle. Make sure to check back for part 2 when we’ll discuss other diets, such as the Ketogenic Diet, the Alkaline diet and the Paleo diet!

Disclaimer: if you have any pre-existing medical condition, or are pregnant, please seek the advice of your GP before starting any self-administered diet. 

A 77 Mile Trip To Share Some University of Bristol Joy

During a week where we are reflecting on Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week, it seemed fitting to shine a light on Arron’s BDT Cycle Challenge – undertaken for no greater reason than to bring some joy to his UoB team.

The Sport, Exercise and Health Division at the University are quite used to working as a socially-distanced team, having to operate day-to-day across three main sites; the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue, the University Pool in the Richmond Building, and Coombe Dingle Sports Complex.

Most of us in the Business Development Team (BDT), however, are brought together at our bi-weekly meetings, and it’s rare that many staff go more than a full week without ‘popping in’ to another office or two and seeing colleagues across the team and Division. As many other UoB staff can probably relate, the seven weeks since our facilities shut and we all transitioned to working-from-home, is the longest any of us have been without catching up with colleagues – in meetings, or over a freshly-boiled kettle.​​​​​​​Arron is our Deputy BDT Manager and this Bike Ride challenge started initially as a “joke between colleagues” – could we convince him to take on such a mammoth challenge for the sake of the team? Turns out, we could, and with some gentle encouragement the idea soon become a very real plan, much to the excitement of the rest of us! All in, the mapped route would see Arron cross the length and breadth of Bristol, down into North Somerset, and to the far-flung reaches of South Gloucestershire – final mileage yet to be determined…

Luckily the weather held out and the sun was shining when he set off at 8:00am for the shortest leg of the trip; just around the corner to stop number one and a slightly bleary-eyed morning “hello” from Molly, Sport’s Social Media Assistant! ​​​​​​​

From here he headed across Bristol to St George, for a (socially-distanced) coffee and home-grown flower collection from Events Manager, Kirsty, before moving on to see Jo, our Memberships Administrator – who was delighted with the delivery of flowers that came with him!

Over the course of the day Arron cycled a total distance of 77 miles, visiting 12 members of the Business Development Team, and exchanging stories and well wishes from one colleague to the next!

During a week where we are reflecting on Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week, it seemed fitting to shine a light on this – Arron’s BDT Cycle Challenge – undertaken for no greater reason than to bring some joy to his UoB team. This act of kindness translated into further acts of kindness from the whole team, with each stop inviting an exchange of encouragement, coffee, flowers and snacks. Arron was even greeted by his very own personalized t-shirt for the occasion, expertly crafted by our Finance Administrator, Penny!

For all of us it was a welcome moment of social time with somebody new and also provided some mild entertainment during an otherwise ordinary day. But I think, most importantly, it re-connected our team during a time of disconnection – which was a wonderful thing.

Important disclaimer: This cycle is an exception to Arron’s usual ‘daily exercise’ – cycles of this magnitude are not regular occurrences – and social distancing was carefully observed throughout the entire day. 

TENNIS: Article review from Ali Blackett, Head Tennis Coach.

The article that Ali reviews in this blog post can be found here. It is titled “How to Play Matches the Same Way as you Play in Practice and has been shared by Tennis Mind Game.com.


THE REVIEW

As a coach, this topic comes up a lot with players commenting that they can do things in practice that they feel can’t do in matches or that they feel more confident in a training situation. This is particularly common in young players. This article is great at explaining the reasons why this is the case in an understandable manner and offering some solutions to minimise the differences between practice and training. It summarises the main differences as caring/being afraid (in a match) verses not caring/no fear (in practice). It is suggested the caring or fear in a match is due to the negative consequences of the outcome; this could be parents being disappointed or losing ranking points for example (note the fear is not actually losing the tennis match in itself!) and these are not present in a training situation.

Interestingly they comment in the article that this issue could be in part due to most competing players train 20 hours over 2 weeks compared to 1-4 hours of matches. This point is left at that but I feel this is one of the big issues with many juniors in our country now; they are happy to train but not compete, I am not sure of many other sports that don’t have the mentality that you are training to compete, you don’t just train and not actually play the sport properly which I feel is an issue in tennis.

The article raises two ways to combat the problem;

  1. Train as if you are playing a match, for example make sure you play competitive points and practice total commitment to drills or
  2. Play a match as you practice, in effect lowering the pressure in a match situation. I feel both methods are relevant and perhaps which one a player or coach adopts mostly should reflect the individual player and their drives.

My favourite part of the article is when it addresses dealing with stress and anxiety by checking and challenging thoughts so that the player focuses on what can be controlled for example tactics and rituals and moves the focus away from any potential negative outcomes. It goes further to suggest players should “accept what happens in a match”. This is possibly the most useful piece of information for a young player to adopt. It teaches them to channel their thoughts, control their emotions and show resilience. For example, if you can accept your opponent has won a game from a net chord and not dwell on it emotionally you are more likely to compete effectively in the next game.

Lastly a great suggestion here is for a player to spend time dealing with their fears off court (e.g. ‘If I lose everyone will think I’m rubbish’. Players, parents and coaches need to understand that if efforts are not made off court with this part of the players’ tennis, how will they be able to cope with them in an on court competitive environment. Easy answer, they won’t.


For more articles and resources from the Bristol Uni Sport Tennis team, head over to Facebook and make sure to ‘like’ the page so you never miss any update!

BUCS season highlights: Blog takeover with Men’s Lacrosse (UBMLC)

We asked University of Bristol Men’s Lacrosse to look back at their BUCS season and give us their top highlights from the team. Keep scrolling for UBMLC #BUCSlookback.


UBMLC has had a fantastic season for Performance. The Men’s 1st team had a fourth consecutive unbeaten league win, securing themselves a spot in the national quarterfinals. They played at home against Loughborough, in aid of CoppoFeel. Four of our 1st team players attended England University trials (scroll down for photos) and three were selected for the squad!

Our 2nd team had a hard-fought season with some close games, eventually securing fourth place overall in the league, joint in points with the team in 3rd place.

Our 3rd team saw some of their first wins in seasons, which was amazing – even more so as they were a team of players who were all new to the sport and hadn’t played in matches before but were all keen to push themselves and become better players!

A highlight, as it is every year, was the first -team BUCS home game against Exeter, which was played in memory of Ottie Uden (a member of our sister club, UBLC) who sadly passed away.

Photos 1 and 2: National Cup quarterfinals at Coombe Dingle, played against Loughborough and raising money for CoppaFeel.

Photo 3: A pre-season friendly game against Camden Capybaras in London. A match including past, present and future UBMLC players followed by a social.

Photos 4 and 5: Our 1st team at their game against Exeter, which was played in memory of Ottie Uden – a member of UBLC (University of Bristol Women’s Lacrosse)

Photo 6: Our proud 2’s after defeating the University of Exeter for a second week in a row and securing joint 3rd in the league.

Photo 7: (Right to left) Aidan Hood, Matt Giudici, James Clemetson and Jack Severino at the England University trials – Aiden, Matt and James went on to secure a position on the England University Squad.

Photo 8: Our 1st team at their final game of the season after winning a fourth consecutive league title, unbeaten.

Photo 9: A happy 3rd team after ending a great season with many players having not played before.

Thanks to Smif Sports for some amazing photos this season!


Want to write a Club Takeover blog and collaborate with Bristol Sport?
Email us your ideas! seh-comms@bristol.ac.uk

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Being Active During Ramadan

With up to 18 hours a day fasted, Ramadan is not the time to be smashing PBs; but aiming to sustain active behaviour is encouraged.  

Maintaining exercise activity is the key. It is certainly not the time to start on a new exercise regime so don’t be looking to up your reps, weights, distances, etc. Intense cardio sessions, plyometrics and heavy weights are not recommended to avoid strain on your body.  Limiting cardio sessions to two per week may also be advisable.  Your fitness levels will likely change and given the lifestyle changes this is understandable so should not be a cause for concern.

With interrupted sleep and dehydration, it can be hard to maintain a normal workout routine but finding the time to work out will help to clear your mind and keep energy levels up. 

When to exercise? 

  • Before suhoor.  If you are an early riser, before suhoor could be a good time for weight training with appropriate refuelling afterwards.
  • Before sunset.  This can be suitable for low-key exercise with resistance training, low reps and weights – plus lots of stretching. Or maybe a light jog. You can refuel at itfar and recover afterwards.
  • After itfar. Soon after eating is not advised though weight training may be more manageable on a fuller stomach.  Later in the evening, especially if you go to bed later, 2-3 hours after itfar, can be the better option, allowing your meal to have gone down a little.

Tips 

  • Ensure a varied diet.
  • Foods high in slow-release energy are advised (oats, wholegrain, high-fibre).
  • On exercise days add a little extra food to fuel your body, and ensure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate.
  • Limit cardio duration due to limited glycogen stores. 
  • Hydrate well during non-fasting hours and especially before and after exercise. 
  • Prioritise load bearing activity to maintain healthy muscle and bone mass.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Ensure you get rest time during the day, including a nap where possible.
  • If you feel nauseous or dizzy when exercising – stop.

Useful Links: 

Fitness trainer Faisal Abdalla, known as Mr P.M.A. gives some useful advice

GB Rower Moe Sbhi shares experiences of training during a lockdown Ramadan

Hosting a virtual pre-season: Blog Takeover with Women’s Cricket (UBWCC)

Like all student sports at the moment, Women’s Cricket have taken their Club online. However with their season even yet to start, current circumstances added uncertainty if they’ll see any match-time this year. Should they continue training as normal? Undeterred by the distance between them, UBWCC took on the challenge of hosting a full-on virtual pre-season for their members – with huge success!

We asked Anna Biggs, UBWCC Captain, to write about the experience, and give her top tips for hosting socially-distance pre-season training, for any #WeAreBristol clubs that may find themselves in a similar situation come the Autumn term!


Due to the nature of the cricketing season, our training and matches are skewed towards the end of the academic year. Under normal circumstances we hold a preseason during the Easter break, in preparation for the onset of matches in the Summer term.

However, due to the pandemic our original plans for preseason were cancelled, along with our whole summer season. Obviously, we were devastated by this news and truly saddened that we were unable to complete the season in the way we imagined.

As a club, and like the rest of the country, we decided to put a positive spin on a rubbish situation and run a Virtual Preseason for the same dates we would have been our regular pre-season – Wednesday 15th April until Friday 17th April.

Throughout each day, we announced three challenges on the Facebook event and on our Instagram (follow us @UOBWCC):

  • An artistic challenge (announced at 10am)
  • A cricketing challenge (announced at 12pm)
  • A S&C (strength and conditioning) challenge (announced at 2pm)

Everyone who joined in gained one point for completing each challenge and some challenges were ranked, with the top-three awarded extra points.

At the end of each day, we would post the leader board, and on Friday night we announced the overall ranking and winner of pre-season as a whole!

What went well?

  • Releasing events at set points throughout the day gave structure to the pre-season – like a normal timetable of activities.
  • Set times also reduced the chances of members feeling overwhelmed by all of the challenges at the start of the day and enabled a continual trickle in of content over a few hours.
  • Members really enjoyed the ‘arty challenges’ – although we wouldn’t really be doing this in a normal pre-season, it was a really effective way to engage members and create an inclusive and friendly feel to the event.
  • The leader board created a competitive edge and was affective at engaging members in all the different challenge types.
  • Having a social in the middle of few days of virtual pre-season brought back the social side to pre-season that we were all missing.

Advice for planning a virtual pre-season:

  • Give clear outlines, timelines and structures to the virtual pre-season. This will reduce confusion and increase involvement.
  • Advertise pre-season well in advance to increase engagement – such as via social media pages, email, or any direct contact like messages.

What to write a Club Takeover blog for us? Email us your ideas!

Follow University of Bristol Women’s Cricket on Instagram @UOBWCC

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A Performance Athlete in Lockdown: Blog Takeover with Beth Doughty

As my self-imposed exile manifested into a government-enforced necessity, I felt confident that I’d have enough things to tackle and enough support around me that “I would be fine”.  

Let me not delude you into thinking I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by uncertainty and stress – I was. Psychologists say that isolation has profound effects on the body and mind – anxiety, paranoia, depression etc. But I promised myself I must keep a strong sense of perspective throughout these changes.

An essential constant we all have, which I wish to emphasise is community.

While the pandemic has physically isolated us from each other, our ingenuity and resilience ensure that we can still forge a sense of community with each other. No matter where I am geographically, or the limitations I have, I am still a member of my communities; my family, my friends, my teams, my university, and my workplace, to name a few. 

While travelling back to Wales to be with my family – for an indefinite period of social-distancing – I began planning.

I set my agenda for each day, and week. I found this simple process of tracking my targets for the day an easy resource to keep me sane. They say Newton incepted his theory of gravity, Shakespeare wrote his best plays, and Hugo finalised Les Misérables in a time of quarantine. I knew I wasn’t going to emerge from lockdown with any ground-breaking new theories, but I pledged that this will be a time for reflection and revision (something I am not very good at).  

As a hockey player for Wales and the University I felt betrayed that my season had been cut short and cheated out of the international Hockey scheduled for the summer.

But as I reflected, I reminded myself of my good health and the physical condition I was in. I reminded myself of the goals I had set and how these were transferable and adaptable to the current climate. I focused on my original goal for the season and created a “plan for quarantine” – to get fitter and keep getting stronger.

Beth’s home-gym set up!

I miss the pitch; I miss the atmosphere and dynamic and I miss the team environment. But I am lucky that this is something I am coming back to and I reminded myself that this is only temporary. 

In the interim, everyone’s desire to keep the momentum of our seasons going has meant that both coaches and athletes in the squad are using their imaginations to set wild and wonderful targets and challenges!

We all sympathise with each other’s seasons coming to a halt and these humorous, yet valuable, engagements have allowed us to keep some consistency within the squad. As athletes, we do not train because people are watching and tracking our success. The motivations for me are internal, and I train to achieve my own goals. It is at times like this – when my training is behind closed doors in my family home in Newport – that I can focus on my own personalised training programme.

My educational endeavours have now shifted online.

As a final year student, I am in a huge phase of finalising my degree and moving onto my law conversion in September. This is obviously extremely stressful, but I am confident that the University will install measures to prevent anything out of my control causing detriment to my hard work. Circumstances aside, my dissertation is not going to write itself and it gives me all the more motivation to steal my place on my MA!

It is a peculiar time not to be receiving emails about lost property items or upcoming fixtures of the week from the Staff Team. The support of S.E.H is something I will welcome with open arms as this all settles down. Yet, there is no feeling of disconnection – technology connects us! In all of this I recognise the power and feeling community brings, no matter the size and no matter the affiliation. Be it virtual gym sessions (or online pub trips) it’s all a matter of making the time to stay in contact and ‘normalise’ the situation in this unprecedented time.

As I think about my future, I break it down into short-term and long-term goals and expectations.

In all of this, my strive to achieve is internal, but also driven by external factors and fuelled by my engagement with my communities. Academically, as I look to go onto my masters come September, the University and the Squad act as a major support network in securing this. The Performance Squad is not just a collection of achieving athletes, but a foundation and team where, as individuals and as a group, we can grow and develop to become the best student athletes. This is both in our sporting successes, academic performance, mental growth and as an ambassador for all that we represent – the University, the Squad, our sporting teams and ourselves.

Juggling both academics and training priorities at a time of uncertainty is of course difficult to maintain. With consistent distraction and anxiety, it is easy to take your foot (or stick, in my case) off the ball. Within the Squad, we have a phenomenal sense of accountability for each other – this is complimented with compassion and determination, which ensures we always have someone to confide in. It is the bizarre circumstance we are currently in, where the Squad can be seen at its best with an overriding togetherness and amity.

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there”

Zig Ziglar

During a difficult time in my sporting career this has reminded me to broaden my perspective and step into reality. Every athlete has difficulties, every student has things to manage, every colleague is balancing demands and priorities. But everyone in my communities have things they desire to achieve. When external controls change your ideal path, it is essential to re-calibrate and find a new one.

My goal to go to the Commonwealth Games will never change, but my path to get there through these current circumstances, has changed. All in all, it is about acting on what I can control; communicating with my team and managers, training to the best of my ability with the resources I have, and always learning and growing wherever possible. Sport is all about physical attributes, but equally about your mental ability to lead, cope with stress and manage. It is in this time we can all grow as individuals and as athletes with the people around us.

As the Easter break comes to an end it’s a time to keep up the momentum of my goals, to keep encouraging my squad and peers, and to keep learning, developing and reflecting (and raiding my bookshelf)!

As of yet, I still have an U23’s invitational this Summer for Wales Hockey, I have a team to go back to, and I am where I need to be in these circumstances. I still have a degree to complete and masters to achieve, and a University where I will thrive and develop academically and professionally as a student and athlete.

Beth 🙂

Recipe of the Week: Overnight Oats

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek this week is Overnight Oats – a perfect breakfast recipe for people short on time in the morning, or who want to be able to snooze that alarm once more! It can be prepped the night before and finished off in a couple of minutes the next morning.

It’s a really simple recipe, but has huge potential for anyone who wants to get creative with flavour combinations – we’ve given you a few ideas for you to try at the end of the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 50g porridge oats
  • Milk of choice
  • 1-2 tbsp of yoghurt (natural or greek-style)
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Optional: nuts and seeds such as chia seeds, almonds or pumpkin seeds

Method:

1. The night before, put your oats, cinnamon and any nuts and seeds that you are using into a jar, bowl or mug.

2. Pour over your milk of choice until it just covers the oats.

3. Leave in the fridge to soak overnight.

4. The next morning, stir your oats and mix in the yoghurt (you can choose how much you add based on the consistency of the oats that you would like)

5. Top with the fresh or frozen fruit, plus any additional nuts, seeds, a drizzle of honey and extra cinnamon.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Some flavour combinations to try:

  • Chocolate brownie oats: use cocoa powder
  • Apple pie oats: top with stewed apple and granola.
  • Carrot cake oats: mix in grated carrot, nutmeg and raisins and top with yoghurt.
  • Tropical oats: Mix in frozen pineapple and mango and top with desiccated coconut.
  • Mocha oats: Mix a shot of coffee and tbsp of cocoa powder into the oats mixture.

Don’t forget to tag us in any kitchen creations @bristolunisport on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!