The Human Athlete: Polocrosse Fitness and Health Tips
Polocrosse is a phenomenal and unique sport. It brings together two athletes. There’s so much under a horse owner and a player’s control. To become great at polocrosse, it’s important to maximize fitness for both. In this post, I’d like to focus on the human athlete. I wasn’t physically fit and playing team sports in my younger years. I enjoyed playing sports, but I was the chubby kid who couldn’t keep up. I started playing polocrosse with a passion at age nine and found a sport that put me on the back of a horse that did the running. Boy was I mistaken to believe that the horse doing the running would be the key! I was good at polocrosse, but I realized over time the importance of my own fitness. Let’s talk about that.
There are two parts of the equation when it comes to the human athlete. The first one is weight control/nutrition and other is physical fitness. Let’s first talk about weight control/nutrition. Why not help your horse use his own energy most efficiently by being lighter on his back? Keeping your own weight in control can really help your horse out.
Besides being lighter, it’s important to use proper nutrition for fueling your body. I’ve found what works for me is to limit my intake of white carbs (bread, rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta, and fried food with breading) and processed sugar. I know that you’re cursing me right now, but it’s possible to live that way. Find healthy fats like avocado and coconut butter. Eat protein, but limit animal protein. For three months, I did all but limit the animal protein and I lost 35 lbs. I hadn’t been at that weight since I was a teenager. I’d yo-yoed in my 20’s and early 30’s between 200 and 220 lbs. At the last World Cup in 2011, as a cardiovascular machine, I still was only down to 200 lbs. Since changing the way I think about food and trying to avoid the items listed above, I’ve been staying between 180 and 185 lbs. I’ve also never felt better. Proteins and healthy fats take longer to burn. I try to limit my eating windows to 8 hours a day, meaning not eating first thing or late at night. I try to eat whole foods rather than the items in the center of the grocery store. Drink water or lemon water. Avoid soft drinks. All of this stated, I will cheat at least once or twice a week. It’s good to keep your body guessing and not to feel like you can never have anything junk related. Switching my fuel from carbs and sugar to fat allowed me to also do intermittent fasting. This did amazing things for my gut health. The good thing to try after a fast is to try different foods and find out what your body reacts to. Avoid those inflammatory foods, those foods that make you feel bloated or tired. These things worked wonders for me and I try to keep up with this healthier lifestyle for the endless benefits. Look for sugar substitutes that don’t affect your blood insulin levels like erythritol (Swerve is one brand I use) or Stevia. For instance, some ice creams and drinks I like use them instead of sugar. I also substitute dairy milk for unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Dairy milk actually has more sugar than you’d think.
Moving beyond your gut health and fuel for your body, it’s time to talk about personal fitness and the preparing the muscles for being a polocrosse athlete. This paragraph will be simple and sweet. What’s worked for me is interval training right at home in front of my TV. I work out to P90X3, a 30 minute a day, 6 days a week program. It gets your heart rate up and then brings it down and then repeats. It also uses a variety of workouts that continually confuse your muscles. You do upper body one day and cardio the next and yoga the next. What a program! Simply, get your body moving and heart rate up for at least 15 minutes a day. If you enjoy a run or cycling, do it. Do what you enjoy and can stick to. Don’t feel like you must spend hours in the gym. Get functionally fit, with a strong core and don’t lose your flexibility with super large muscles.
For more about my personal journey regarding fitness, buy my eBook Champion: The Guide to Becoming a Great Polocrosse Player.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor. Everyone’s body is different, so there’s not one size fits all recommendation. In this post, I’m explaining what worked for me personally. I’m not giving you direct and personalized recommendations. See your doctor to determine what’s right for you.