At Xtract, we imagine everybody has the potential to change into an endurance athlete, it doesn’t matter what age, health stage, or life-style. We’ve constructed our world neighborhood round this core worth, sharing the tales and classes of athletes everywhere in the world to assist encourage and inspire you to hit your highest efficiency targets.
In the present day’s featured athlete, Leentje Van Meirhaeghe, embodies these core values, having lately accomplished a 298-day problem to transform her life-style to spice up her athletic efficiency. The outcome? Effectively, for one factor, she’s gone from being a comparatively inexperienced bike owner to a contender on the Belgian Championship time trial, making a couple of nationwide headlines alongside the way in which.
How did she do it? What classes did she be taught? What was her secret to success? Leentje informed us all about her journey in our latest interview. Learn on to get the complete story!
From on a regular basis to extraordinary
Q: Inform us a bit about what triggered your determination to problem your self on this approach?
Leentje: Certain. It began final 12 months after I give up my job. I used to be in search of an entire change and determined to enterprise into sports activities advertising and marketing independently. Throughout this transitional part, I used to be actually dwelling it up, partying and having enjoyable. However I would usually get up feeling unhealthy because of the irregular hours, alcohol, and total lack of construction. I realised then that I wanted to make an enormous change.
The thought of difficult myself athletically sparked after I attended the Belgian Championship Time Trial to help my nephew and his mate, Victor. The considered taking part was intimidating at first as a result of it’s good to qualify to compete. However the concept lingered in my thoughts for months.
Nonetheless, after discussing it with my nephew (Jef Van Meirhaeghe), who actually inspired me, I stated okay, let’s do it.
Q: Are you able to describe the mindset adjustments you needed to endure?
Leentje: For me, the important thing to sustaining self-discipline and motivation all through this problem was having a transparent “why”. I wished to regain management over my life, to have extra construction, and to make choices with a transparent thoughts. This problem was my approach of attaining that. Realizing why I used to be doing it made all of the distinction. It made it simpler to get up each morning, to coach, and to have more healthy habits.
Q: How would you examine your life earlier than and after this self-imposed problem? In what methods have you ever modified probably the most?
Leentje: The bodily adjustments are fairly vital. I’ve misplaced round 14-15 kilos, and whereas I used to be pleased with my physique earlier than, I now really feel a lot more healthy and stronger. It is not simply in regards to the weight reduction but in addition the rise in muscle mass and total health. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of my physique, having the ability to really feel my coronary heart fee and have higher management over it. That sense of management and being in tune with my physique is without doubt one of the most important adjustments for me.
I’ve additionally realized to understand the little issues in life. Household dinners, moments with buddies and their kids, and even high quality ‘me time’ have change into extra significant. If you’re juggling work and intense coaching, you begin to worth and cherish these moments.
Coaching for the BC Time Trial
Q: What was step one you took once you determined to vary your life-style and dive into skilled biking?
Leentje: One of many first issues I did was discover a coach. I had tried following generic web packages earlier than, however this time I knew I wanted one thing extra tailor-made.
Having a coach made a world of distinction. Each week, we’d evaluation my outcomes and make changes primarily based on my coronary heart fee, velocity, and weight. It let me deal with areas the place I might enhance and make constant progress. My coach additionally carried out train assessments all through the problem to evaluate my health stage and observe my growth.
I extremely suggest working with a coach or coach. It actually contributed to my enchancment and total success.
Q: How did you preserve your motivation and self-discipline all through this journey?
Leentje: Sustaining motivation and self-discipline was a problem at instances. Particularly on mornings after I needed to get up early, like 5 a.m., to gas up earlier than intense coaching periods. After all, there have been moments after I did not really feel like doing it, however I needed to swap my mindset.
I knew why I used to be on this journey and what I wished to attain. Even after I did not really feel prefer it, I knew that when I began, I might really feel nice afterwards. So I might inform myself, “Put in your exercise garments, and simply go.”
I additionally leaned on my family and friends for help throughout robust instances. Their understanding and help made an enormous distinction in protecting me motivated.
Q: How did you adapt your diet to help your new athletic life-style?
Leentje: One of many first issues I lower out was alcohol. That made it simpler to shed weight and practice within the morning with extra power and no hangover. I additionally turned extra aware of my sugar consumption, though I nonetheless allowed myself some treats, particularly throughout lighter coaching weeks. I seen I used to be consuming extra biscuits and sweets than I did earlier than. However it didn’t really feel unhealthy as a result of I used to be coaching a lot.
I additionally met with a nutritionist on the soccer membership the place I work, who supplied me with an inventory of really helpful meals for various coaching situations. I prioritised having a nutritious breakfast with yoghurt, granola, and fruit and adjusted the components primarily based on availability.
One other factor I did was meal prepping for the week. Like, on Sunday evenings, I might sit down and work out what I wanted for the upcoming week. Then, on Monday evenings, I might hit the shop and do an enormous grocery haul to get the whole lot I wanted. It was a game-changer as a result of it gave me one much less factor to fret about in the course of the week and helped me preserve my consuming habits on level.
Q. Have been there any particular dietary supplements that performed a major function in your coaching and transformation? Pre-workout, throughout, post-workout?
Leentje: Completely. For the pre-workout, it relies upon. Earlier than heavy coaching, I wish to have a “Decathlon cake” for carbs. You simply add water, put it within the microwave, and it is able to go. Throughout much less intensive coaching periods, I did not eat a lot earlier than my exercises.
If the session is six hours or longer, I’ll additionally kick issues off with a caffeine shot or with XTRACT.
Throughout coaching, I ensure my physique has sufficient gas to hold me via the whole session. As an example, throughout marathon coaching or the precise marathon, I’ll take as much as three gels per hour. It’s a excessive quantity, however it retains my power ranges secure. This additionally helps me curb cravings for quick meals and unhealthy snacks post-workout.
Put up-workout, a vanilla protein shake with soy milk is my go-to, irrespective of the size of the exercise.
Q: What was your expertise with XTRACT like?
Leentje: For me, it makes a distinction for intense coaching periods. Throughout a interval after I was coaching six or seven hours a day for a couple of weeks, I made a decision to mix XTRACT with my caffeine pictures.
Usually, I would have three caffeine pictures throughout coaching. However with XTRACT, I simply took one, and I felt approach more healthy. By some means, XTRACT appeared to offer the identical, or perhaps even a greater, power increase than the caffeine shot, however it felt completely different. Extra pure and wholesome, which is in step with my causes for taking up this coaching problem within the first place. I used to be a bit bummed out after I ran out of my Ginger-Lemon pictures.
Q: Are you able to speak about any errors you made early on in your coaching
Leentje: Like I discussed earlier, protecting your power up throughout exercises was an enormous one. I actually imagine that altering that behavior (taking extra gels in the course of the exercise) performed an enormous function in my enchancment. And seeing that progress is so motivating; it makes you need to push even tougher.
One other factor was organisation, or relatively, the dearth of it, particularly firstly. I did not take the time to take a seat down and actually plan out my exercises, which, wanting again, wasn’t one of the best method.
I would undoubtedly advise different athletes to plan out when and the place they’ll practice, perhaps even prep their gear the evening earlier than. It could possibly make a world of distinction. For instance, for those who’re coaching for a triathlon – you’ve got obtained operating, biking, and swimming wear to organise. Having a bag able to go can prevent from a morning scramble, and belief me, a stress-free begin is the proper kick-off to any coaching day.
Q: What was probably the most difficult a part of your journey, and the way did you overcome it?
Leentje: Coaching in winter. Think about biking in fixed rain, chilly, and even freezing climate. I keep in mind this one time, I used to be at my father or mother’s place. It was the second of January, the thermometer was exhibiting minus 4, and there I used to be, coaching exterior as a result of there was no house coach at their place. It made me additional grateful to have one at house.
Having a house coach makes it simpler once you’re on a decent coaching schedule to leap away from bed, throw in your exercise gear and hop straight onto the bike. All whereas watching some Netflix or getting some work completed. If I needed to share some suggestions, I would say put money into a house coach. Sure, it may be dear, however it’s value it for the flexibleness it offers your coaching.
Lastly, I’d say do not skimp on good exercise garments. Consolation and performance can actually improve your coaching expertise.
The teachings realized
Q: All through this transformative journey, what are probably the most essential classes you’ve got realized?
Leentje: I feel the largest factor is the immense respect I’ve for skilled athletes. I all the time admired them, however now, my respect for them is off the charts – they’re gods!
Selecting to interact in a sport since you adore it is one factor, however it’s an entire different stage of dedication once you’re continually pushing your self to enhance. And for individuals who juggle this with a full-time job, properly, it simply blows my thoughts. I wrestle to understand how organisations, federations, or governments wrestle to seek out enough sponsorship or funding to help them extra.
Take girls’s biking or subject hockey, as an example. I do know that greater than half of these athletes should work a daily job simply to pay the payments. This was a actuality I hadn’t absolutely grasped. I all the time had the consolation of understanding that my intense coaching schedule would finish in June and that I might then readjust my work life. However for these athletes, it is a fixed grind, 12 months in, 12 months out.
It is a robust path they’ve chosen, and so they have my utmost respect.
Q: For those who might identify one highest factor about taking this problem, what would it not be?
Leentje: My well being, certainly. I really feel a lot extra alive and cozy in my very own physique and thoughts.
Q: Now that you’ve achieved such a outstanding transformation, what are your future targets?
Leentje: I’ve obtained plans to compete on the regional time trial championship this July. And who is aware of, perhaps I will ask my followers on social media what they suppose I ought to do subsequent. I am open to ideas.
Q: What recommendation would you give to aspiring athletes who want to make an identical life-style change?
Leentje: Simply keep in mind, if others can do it, so are you able to. Know why you need to do it, after which simply go for it.
Key secrets and techniques to success
Discovering a transparent “why” and understanding the motivation behind the approach to life change is essential for sustaining self-discipline and overcoming challenges.
Personalised coaching packages tailor-made to particular person wants are instrumental in attaining speedy progress and success.
Having a supportive community of family and friends can present the mandatory encouragement and assist throughout robust moments.
Slicing out alcohol and being aware of sugar consumption have been vital dietary adjustments Leentje made to help her athletic life-style.
Meal planning and preparation helped Leentje keep organised and preserve wholesome consuming habits.
Incorporating dietary supplements like XTRACT and utilising caffeine pictures helped present power boosts throughout coaching periods.
Coaching in winter climate introduced challenges, however having a house coach and investing in good exercise garments can improve the coaching expertise.
Leentje gained a newfound respect for skilled athletes and their dedication to their sport whereas juggling work commitments.
Essentially the most rewarding side of the problem for Leentje was improved well being and a higher sense of consolation in her personal physique.