• Annie Bothma

MERGING MY PASSIONS: ANNIE'S ATHLETES

"Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession." - Gabrielle Bernstein

I closed my Fired Fitness personal training business at the end of 2019, and temporarily stopped my running coaching, when I chose to chase my own running dreams. I packed my bags and went to train at 3000m altitude in a training camp in the mountains, located in a small township called Kipsiat. I didn't have any access to wi-fi, and was thus no longer able to continue coaching my athletes online. I always knew I would return to coaching, since it’s such a big passion of mine, and I see it as my way to give back to the sport which has given me so much.


I am back in South Africa for the foreseeable future and am able to restart my business. Over the past two years, during the global pandemic when racing opportunities were scarce and races were being cancelled, a lot of runners also didn't feel the need to seek out coaching services, since they didn’t have any specific races to prepare for. However, the race calendar is finally filling up with races again, and the running world is slowly moving back to normal after the negative effects of the pandemic.


Fired Fitness is back, but under a new name, a new look, with more services and with a new mission!

ANNIE'S ATHLETES now offer personalized coaching services for runners, and sport nutrition services for everyone, including elite athletes, weekend warriors, recreational exercisers, or anyone who wants to improve their health and life quality through fitness and nutrition.

I focus on creating a program that fits the athlete's unique needs, takes their running history into consideration, and is tailored to help them achieve their goals. I combine the knowledge I’ve gained from some of the best coaches in the world, including Erick Kimayo (coach to the current world record marathon-holder, Brigid Koskei of Kenya), Zola Budd (former South African middle-distance Olympian), Bennie Stander, Gerrie Coetzee, Johan Fourie, and other great mentors who have influenced my thinking, with the experience I’ve gained while training at a high level as an elite athlete over the years.

My passion for nutrition has evolved drastically while being an elite athlete. I realized how much better I’m able to perform if I fuel properly to support my training. ​As athletes we need to fuel for training to reach our full potential. Athletes often neglect nutrition and miss out on a key component of their training.

While growing up, I really wanted to study dietetics. My own journey with nutrition started when I became sick as a young girl. I battled with gastrointestinal symptoms and saw multiple doctors who tried to figure out the root cause to my life-debilitating symptoms. Symptoms included fatigue, weight loss, inability to handle cold, anemia (low iron), low blood pressure, and dizziness, just to name a few. At the age of 17, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease, and was forced, as a teenager, to suddenly navigate figuring out a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease (CD) is a genetic, autoimmune disease that mainly affects the gastrointestinal tract when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When someone with CD eats gluten, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and is unable to absorb nutrients properly.

Battling with Celiac Disease, along with my other health problems, made me realize what a profound impact nutrition can have on your health, life-quality, and performance as an athlete.

Two years after that, I received another diagnosis by an endocrinologist. He told me that I have a rare disorder called Hypopituitarism, which causes the pituitary gland, situated at the base of the brain, to fail in its production of hormones – by producing too little or, in rare cases, none. The hormones secreted by this bean-shaped gland influence nearly every part of the human body, including growth, reproduction, and blood pressure. The absence of these critically important hormones can thus cripple the development of the human body, which was undoubtedly apparent in my case, since I am severely undersized when compared to my family, in both weight and length, and I lack some basic development usually undergone by a growing child. The explanation behind my still reasonable length lies in my genes and normal thyroid gland. As a result of my Hypopituitarism, I also have Central Diabetes Insipidus, due to damage to the pituitary gland that affects the usual production, storage, and release of ADH.


As a result of my conditions, I was very skinny and small while growing up. I was constantly being labelled and judged. People thought I had an eating disorder due to the way I look, and I still get judged often for being small-framed and underweight. However, the way I look has never been a choice or even a result of the way I eat. Rather, it was due to my medical conditions. I let with the judgement stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a dietitian. I wanted to go study nutrition, but I didn't want to amplify the labels that were already being placed upon me. I did not want more emotional pain, neither did I need more rejection, bulling and shaming than I was already dealing with.


But it is true. Sadly, there is a stigma that people with eating disorders often go study nutrition or dietetics. In fact, according to a research paper published in the National Library of Medicine in 2018, Orthorexia nervosa and eating disorder symptoms in dietitians in the United States, researchers found that both ON and EDs are more common amongst dietitians than the general population. The results showed dietitians self-reported symptoms suggesting a prevalence of 49.5% for ON and 12.9% for EDs, and the presence of ON symptoms was associated with all the types of ED symptoms queried.


So, I didn't follow my dream and, instead, went for the second best option. I decided to go study Exercise Science in America, and became a Master Personal Trainer through the International Sports Science Association. I am also a certified coach, and have done kids coaching development courses. However, after returning from the States, I ended up becoming certified as a Sports Nutritionist; while studying exercise science, I realized nutrition is a key part of an athlete's performance, recovery, and health. It is not worth it to not go for the things that makes you excited in life, just simply because of the fear of what others may say or think. Follow your own passions and create your own path - ultimately you are the one who is going to walk it!

I always knew I wanted to be involved and give back to the sport in some way. It is a part of me and will always be! I realized I could merge my passions for running, coaching, and nutrition into one, because they are all connected, and the one cannot really function optimally without the other!

Sports Nutrition is such a new and evolving field, and one often has to seek out other avenues of study, like diplomas or postgraduate programs, to become a qualified sports nutritionist, since a lot of universities only offer dietetics and not sports nutrition. I want to be able to work with the active population as that is where my interests lean most towards. The field is constantly growing and we are learning more about the science of nutrition and its effects on the human body, as well as its practical implications for athletes. It is for this reason that I‘ve decided to continue studying: to broaden my knowledge and better assist the athletes I am working with.

I am currently busy studying to become a Performance Sports Nutritionist through the Institute Of Performance Nutrition (IOPN). The IOPN is an independent professional education institute dedicated to the training and development of sports nutritionists. The course is led by world-class lecturers and tutors who fuel elite athletes and teams. I am very excited and privileged to be a student at such a high-level institution.

My mission is to help athletes reach their full potential and enjoy their sport. I want to give back to the sport, since it is something that gave me so much, and brought so much meaning to my life! Coaching and Sport Nutrition is my way to help other athletes feel the same feeling of freedom that I experience every day when I get to exercise.


Join today, and learn how to TRAIN RIGHT & FUEL FOR THE WORK REQUIRED!


To find out more about the services I will be offering please visit:

https://www.anniesathletes.org/

https://www.anniesathletes.org/services


Alternatively you can also visit my coaching page on my blog: https://www.anniebothma.com/coaching


Lastly, if you have a dream or something you are really passionate about, I encourage you to go for it and never let anyone else decide your path or let your fears dictate your decisions. Follow your heart.


- Annie


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