By Whitney Love
Updated March 26, 2019
It’s that time of the year again!!
NCA college Nationals is right around the corner and I bet you just might be freaking out a little… ok maybe a lot! All the last minute practices being schedule, required workouts, getting ahead on your school work, taking those tests ahead of time due missing them for performances during the week and travel to Daytona, attending regular classes, traveling to basketball tournaments, covering shifts at work, trying to work as often as you can… let’s face it, you’re just a busy bee! PLUS, you’re napping during the day and not sleeping well at night (probably because of extra curricular activities..) and to finish this rant, I doubt you’re able to fuel your body with the appropriate nutrients it needs in order to make all of this possible. I get it though!
I spent 5 years cheering at Oklahoma State University (shoutout to my Cowboy fam!) and it took me 4 years just to figure out what my body needed during this time of the year. By my final years as an athlete it clicked! I was tan, fit, and finished full out routines with ease.
Below you’ll find a few tips that worked for me. Keep in mind, everyone is different. What I do may not be what work for you! Think of it as if you’re working on a new skill, you’ll have to go through trial and error in order to learn what the best method is for you. As long as you’re learning from each experience, it’s worth it!
BE OPEN AND HONEST WITH YOUR PROFESSORS!!
Work up the courage and patience to wait after class so you can meet your professor and make sure they know you’re a cheerleader and that means you get the privilege to represent the university at games, tournaments, events, and college nationals. Go over dates that you could potentially have to miss and let them know whether any of the these days overlap with important dates for the class . I took this very serious because good grades and organization skills didn’t come natural for me. This took away a lot of the potential stress.. trust me when I say completing homework or taking an online test while traveling or staying in Daytona is the last thing you will have time for. Communication is KEY my friends!
YOU’RE WRONG IF YOU WAIT UNTIL MARCH AND APRIL TO “GET FIT”
There is no healthy way to lose weight and get fit fast enough if you’re starting in March.. trust me, I tried it the unhealthy way and it is the surest way to injuring yourself as well as your self esteem. From the beginning of fall to the end of April I made sure to eat as clean as possible.
UP YOUR INTERVAL AND DEBBIE LOVE EXERCISE GAME IN DEC, JAN, AND FEB!
During fall semester I would workout at least 4 days a week. This was my favorite time because I could be creative with where I would work out. Whether that be the rec center, athlete facility, outside in the stadium, or around campus. I would challenge myself physically but I would also allow myself to have days off. Around the end of December I would up my intervals! So mainly I’d increase my “mph” and do 20-30 minute session 3 days a week (typically not same day as cheer practice). In addition, I would reduce the weight lifting and focus more on exercises that used my body weight… I call them “Debbie Love” exercises. This workout method was great for me because the intervals made me feel close to what I’d feel after a couple full outs at practice and the “Debbie Love” exercises focus on injury prevention, increased mobility, and areas of my body that are used for cheerleading related skills.
TIME TO GET YOUR MIND RIGHT FOR NATIONALS!
When March comes around it’s easy to get overwhelmed and in my case that meant experiencing a few emotional breakdowns during the month! Even with the preparation prior to this month, you’ll still be busy and the older I got, the busier I became. Luckily, I had coaches, mentors, and family to encourage me during this time! This is when I would really start feeling that “Daytona Season” vibe. I continued my normal workouts, eating habits, and really started focusing on my team. It’s important you don’t miss out on opportunities of personal and/or team growth. You only have a few more weeks left with this group of individuals. It’s important you make the most of it! Some years I did better at this than other years.. and boy do I wish I could go back and tell myself to relax. You might find yourself having trouble sleeping around this time but in my case, that would happen if I had too much on my plate. One year I noticed myself developing a “Skill Block” as a result of stress and not enough sleep. Be aware and realistic with yourself when it comes to how much you take on each day.
While traveling and in Daytona during Nationals, I would kind of eat whenever I could. I ALWAYS had snack with me like
- peanut butter
- protein bars
- dried fruit
- and a full bottle of water
Fortunately, my mom would attend nationals with me! She was able to wait in line for food each morning so that I could eat right before or after our first practice of the day. The coffee shop in Daytona is always busy but I’d make it a priority to go there for lunch and dinner would be spent at a restaurant.
It’s not impossible to be healthy during National season. It just takes effort and focus just like everything else in our lives. You’re nearing the finish line my friends! I promise the next two weeks with your team will be full of excitement. Don’t let the competition stress you out, but don’t let yourself think winning will be easy. The most important thing is to love what you do because when we do, we inspire others to do the same.