An Athlete's Take on Re-balance and De-stressing

By Jen Segger

For over twenty years, I have been pushing myself to the limit in the endurance world. I've demanded a lot from my body - I've repeatedly asked it to carry me up mountains and through rain forests for days upon end, to bike across vast landscapes all over the world and to paddle remote waterways - so that I could explore outer islands and passages where very few get to go. I've raced at the elite level in adventure racing and ultra running, using competition to make me dig and go even deeper than I ever thought was possible. And through the pursuit of all things endurance, I established a successful and busy coaching business, allowing me the opportunity to work with athletes of all levels, as they pursued their own goals. But perhaps the most significant undertaking has been becoming a mother and trying my best to learn the ropes of parenting while showing my child what a life of adventure can feel like. Throw into the mix travelling, household duties, ongoing education for coaching, trying to hold precious time for friendships and basically, riding the roller coaster of life and all the things that encompass it, I have been knee-deep in life! I wish there would be a word other than "busy" (to which holds no glorification to me) to sum up the ins and outs of my journey.

But would I change anything? Heck no! I'm a lover of life, often feeling that I'm just trying to cram it all into one short time here on earth. How would I do things differently, though, given the choice?

Well, let's just say that 2020 became the year, not necessarily by choice, to reset on many things as it became obvious that a lifetime of living with the throttle pinned down really began to catch up to me. I could no longer just push through. It was time to address issues and find those professionals who had the expertise to help me re-balance hormones and reset an over-run system. Following is an overview of my personal protocol to help get me back on track.

Change takes time, and I'm starting to see the results of my focused efforts.

Sleep Gone are the days of thinking that 6 hours is adequate, and I could function at a high level on low sleep. I now average 8.5 hours, going to bed as soon as I possibly can, often right after my son, so that I awake feeling rested and can get up with ease and clarity. I'm also a morning person and hate missing out on sunrises, and quiet starts to the day!

Morning Ritual I start my day by juicing 1 full bunch of celery, enough to get about 16 ounces of "Green Goodness," as soon as I get up, loving the fact that not only am I getting great hydration but that I'm doing something positive to help restore the adrenals and flush out the liver. Approximately 30 minutes after juicing, I take my Flora Iron formula to help with the production of red blood cells, so important for women, but even more critical for active females!

Change of Habits Morning has always been prime time for training! While cardio-based exercise is my jam (ie, running and biking), I have re-integrated strength back into my schedule and now make this my number one priority each week. In order to get my hormones back to being happy, lifting heavy weights is essential, even more so as an aging female athlete. I no longer train in a fasted state, but rather eat a power-up breakfast of yams, cauliflower, mushrooms, and egg whites before heading into training (cardio or strength) followed by a protein-based smoothie immediately after. For women, this 30-minute window is critical after a hard workout in order to stop the catabolic effect of exercise.

Jen's post-workout smoothie recipe:

A full breakfast and decaf coffee follow the workout! I never thought that I would be able to wait for multiple hours before having my coffee, but here I am, doing it and thriving!

Afternoon Boost The afternoon is typically spent at my computer, programming, and catching up with athletes. I eat an early afternoon lunch, trying to make it of significant size. A mega super-sized salad is typically on the menu, loaded with veggies and protein. I sip on a large glass of water with 1/4 cup of Flora Elderberry Apple Cider Vinegar added to it. Instead of reaching for another coffee in the late afternoon, I drink a home-made hot beverage, I call a "maca chaca" which I love!

Jen’s “Maca Chaca” Recipe:
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp collagen powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1 tsp organic cacao powder
  • 1 tsp Flora Manuka Honey

Relaxing Evenings With a busy day done, my naturopath really wanted me to unwind at night and to try to bring the speed of life down several notches. While meditation was recommended, I struggle with anything over 5 minutes. Instead, I embarked on a great new hobby of learning to play the guitar. Humbled by how hard it is, I have enjoyed the challenge and how it allows me to focus on nothing other than the wooden instrument in front of me. As I struggle along, laughing at myself in the process, I sip on 1-2 cups of tea, almost always the Flora Peppermint tea, as I love going to bed feeling hydrated. I'm a firm believer that the body can heal and reset - it just needs to be given the tools to do so.

Knowledge is also key, and it feels like I have been on a multi-year search for the right information and guidance to help me. My hope through my own journey is that I can pay the information forward and help my athletes take care of themselves from early on in their endurance endeavors. I started competing at a relatively young age - a time when very little was known what the long-term effects of endurance on the body were, particularly for extreme female athletes. I'm excited and optimistic to see where the next decade takes me. My goal is to reach 50 and be thriving!

Jen Segger is one of Flora's 2020 Athlete Ambassadors. Jen’s career as a competitive athlete began 15 years ago at the height of adventure racing popularity. Despite her love for multi-sport, Jen quickly turned her attention to ultra running and spent more than a decade competing at the world’s most challenging ultras. She has adventured, raced and coached around the world in some of the harshest and most challenging environments. It is when faced with adversity and uncomfortableness that Jen thrives the most.