Alysha Newman, Record-Holding Canadian Pole Vaulter

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Image Courtesy Oscar Muñoz Badilla

Alysha Newman is persistence and hard work exemplified. She is the ruling Commonwealth Games gold medalist, setting the Canadian record in pole vault with 4.75 meters (15.6 ft) in 2018 before surpassing it in 2019 with 4.82 m (15.81 ft). Amazingly, she did it despite injuries at the beginning of her career that led her to question her choice to become a gymnast, plus having to endure a 2018 knee injury that forced her to put her dreams on hold for a year. While it may seem that vaulting over obstacles comes naturally to her, it is all part of a systematic and methodical preparation process. This involves strict lifestyle choices that serve as the building blocks for her physical and mental health. Earlier in her life, Newman dealt with insecurities about her body and appearance, but now she does not shy away from drawing attention to herself — she embraces the spotlight today; finding a space for herself in the world of fashion and beauty; focusing on polishing her social media presence; and garnering fans the world over. 

Elixuer caught up with Newman while she was preparing for her Beijing Olympics 2022 journey. She shared with us her physical and mental fitness essentials as well as her championship eating habits and beauty secrets.

What does it take for you to achieve Olympic-level physical fitness?

I think any time you want to be the best at what you do, it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of sacrifice, especially in the building phase of becoming one of the best elite athletes in the world. For me, I always had a mentor when I was really young. They said putting in that 10,000 hours was something that was very important to do before you hit the beginning of your career. 

For me, being an athlete is learning about the human body, learning my strengths, learning my weaknesses, really going through experiences and failures to then eventually master what I do every day. So, I would say definitely [it takes a lot of] time. It takes consistency, dedication, and definitely a lot of sacrifice too, and a lot of I guess you could say dreaming very big [laughs].

As a world-class athlete, it is assumed that you eat a diet full of proper nutrients. What does this entail for the kind of relationship you have with food — do you treat it as fuel only or do you treat food as a source of enjoyment?

For me, I treat food always as a source of energy. It’s free energy — it’s not free in life to buy food, but it’s free to give to your human body and constantly keep it [motorized]. For me as an athlete, it’s essential that I’m constantly feeding it with the best vitamins, with the best protein, with the best carbohydrates, and really staying away from those simple sugars. 

Back in the day, they would say, to get skinny like a supermodel, you want to not eat as much, or you need to take out your carbs or not eat fats. Well, living in 2021, everything has changed. For me, it’s eating every two to three hours. I have to constantly be feeding my body on a consistent basis because then it constantly burns calories at the end of the day, and more calories than if I’m not eating.

I definitely have [an eating] cycle. I do try to eat my heaviest meal right after I’m done training because the body is constantly burning, and it’s going to need a little bit more energy after I [am] finished tearing up the muscles and putting it through a really intense workout. I do really try to not eat after my last meal at dinner or my last snack around 7:38 [pm] because I want my body to completely relax and not have to multitask, trying to recover, trying to sleep, and trying to digest.

What would be your advice to others who wish to improve their physical and mental health while managing busy lives?

I think everyone has [a] busy life. It is essential that we make money to live, but it’s also essential to keep your health at par. I’ve always told people it shouldn’t be a headache to go in and do physical activity or eat properly. It should just be a habit like you waking up and brushing your teeth.

I think we’re starting to see a lot of the way we look — the way you feel in your own body — designates what your mood is every day. So, if you do feel like you need to lose weight, or you’re overweight, or you’re not comfortable in certain clothes, or you want to look a certain way, then you’re going to already start the day off negative. I’ve always said to motivate people: you come first, and there is going to be a time — that half an hour, 45 minutes that you spend on your phone or are going through Instagram — [that could] have been a quick, easy workout that would have just given your body free energy and endorphins. 

You have made forays into the world of fashion and modelling. Do you have any special beauty regimes to look like a supermodel?

My number one secret that people ask me about my beauty regime […] it’s not products, it’s sleep. I really make sure I give myself that eight hours of sleep. [Your body] needs to decompress, and it needs to not feel stressed, and it needs to not be on social media or interpreting everything you see on the internet, allowing your brain to rest and really recover, [stopping] those endorphins from being released, the cortisol stress levels. 

We all know that stress increases weight gain, cell development, and age gene. [The other thing is] making sure I have my proper vitamins. I’m a big vitamin girl: multivitamin, vitamin C, magnesium, omega — those are something I take daily.

Aun Abbott | Contributing Writer

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