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Digging for Gold at the Beach

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Canadian Olympic hopeful Jody Holden charts his course to victory with a whole-food diet, exercise and rest.

Canadian Olympic hopeful Jody Holden charts his course to victory with a whole-food diet, exercise and rest.

The road to the Olympics is paved in the conquering of one small challenge after another, according to Jody Holden. Holden is part of the two-man beach volleyball team that will represent Canada in Sydney, Australia this summer.

"Each time I conquer a goal I have set for myself I feel great. Before long, I have momentum. Nothing can stop me," says Holden.

Holden applies this goal-setting principal to all aspects of his life: training for the Olympics, court play, diet and community service.

Holden and his team-mate Conrad Leinemann shocked the beach volleyball circuit this past summer, taking home the PanAm games gold'medal the first beach volleyball gold Canada has ever captured. Currently ranked second in Canada, the team is now training for Sydney.

Jody attributes part of his current beach success to his tremendous indoor career, where he was named a two-time All-Canadian at Dalhousie Urmersity, four-time Atlantic Conference All-Star and Most Valuable Player. Jody was-also a two-time member of Canada's national squad.

Stop dieting and start exercising, Holden emphasizes. Your body needs fuel to function, so you need to eat well. It also needs movement. Holden suggests challenging yourself to meet a friend and join a fitness class. Then strive to do something thai gets your heart rale up six days a week. Start with small goals, like running around the block every day this week. Then set a goal of Ivo blocks for next week. If you have the determination and the strength to pursue your dreams, you'll be running a 10-kilometre race before long.

A upical training week lor Holden includes weight training five days, cardiovascular training on a hike three days, followed1 by daily mid-morning practices and afternoon sand practices. In his fee time Holden likes to play hockey.

His key to success during the offseason or training season is to prepare for each week. He spends a few minutes determining what his week's short-term goals are. He says the great feeling of accomplishment is well worth the sweat.

"Discipline is not something we're born with," says Holden. "It's hard work to overcome life's daily challenges."

Water Water Water

As with all sports, beach volleyball places great demands on the body. You sweat continuously. In the professional circuit, players compete in some 150 matches all over the world. Just imagine the climate adaptation and jet lag when you compete in South Africa, France, Portugal, Brazil, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, Belgium and of course, the United States, all within a few months!

Holden says he drinks two to three litres of water per day. During flights he doubles his intake.

It is possible to lose up to four kilograms of sweat per hour during an intensive sporting event. By the time vou realize you are thirsty you arleady dehydrated. Research shows even slight dehidration affects mentalability and muscular strength.

In The Complete Athlete, the authors cite a study where a number of males were made to take a treadmill test in which half of them were denied water while the other half were allowed to drink one cup of water every 15 minutes. The study found that those who drank no water lasted about three-and-a-half hours while the other group was able to last seven hours.

A couple of years ago, Holden says he had a consistent bronchial infection.

He thinks it was due to the recycled air on the airplanes. He knew he couldn't stop flying so he looked into ways to make his body more adaptable.

Now Holden starts his day with a whey protein drink mixed with a green food powder. Protein intake is essential for everyone for the building and repair of all body tissue. Next to water, it is the most plentiful substance in the body. And Holden says the combination of protein powder and greens give him sustained energy. The green drink is his insurance that he's getting a good source of organic vegetables, herbs and sea vegetables.

He also focuses on getting as many fruits and vegetables into his system and consumes high fat and sweet items earlier in the day. Diet improvement is one of his personal goals.

Be Aware of What You Eat

Holden charts his diet. He puts a piece of paper bo the fridge and writes down everything he consumes along with a one to five rating on haw he feels after eating each food. After a month he had a great idea of what foods worked for him. He recommends doing this with supplements too. He says he feels good if his diet consists of complex carbohydrates, complete proteins and lots of fruits and vegetables. If he eats light later in the day and gets some good exercise he feels incredible.

Just like diet, charting how he feels after each night's sleep gives him a good picture of the hours of rest he needs, the best time to hit the pillow and what activities to do before going to bed. Holden cannot function optimally on less than seven to eight hours of sleep. And he finds he sleeps best after playing a recreational sport, a form of relaxation for him. Reading is another relaxing activity.

Holden feels on top of his world right now. He attributes that to finding the good things in each day. And he spreads the word when schools invite he and his team-mate to come. They play indoor volleyball with the students and then give a talk afterwards. He says the looks on the kids' faces make him realize he could make a difference in another's life.

"Above all. have dreams." is his key message. "They're all yours. No one can lake them from you. And you are ultimately responsible for them coming true."

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