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Active Champions

Mind over matter: Finding the motivation to stay active

The Active Champions Series is a monthly showcase of inspiring stories highlighting the importance of physical activity and sport in our everyday lives.

When it comes to staying active, having the right mindset is crucial for overcoming setbacks that might keep you from reaping the many benefits of physical activity. Perhaps you tried getting active regularly in the past, but work commitments, injury, illness or negative self-talk got in the way. Competitive CrossFit athlete and former Team Canada and world tour snowboarder, Natalie Allport, understands how important it is to have the right mental approach to achieve your goals.

“Failing over and over again before suddenly having a win is common for many athletes,” Natalie told ParticipACTION.

“Sports teach you to persevere through the failures while also being patient that your hard work might take a while to shine through.”

Natalie lifting weights

PHOTO: DAVID SOO, TRAINING DAY MEDIA

After Natalie made the difficult decision in 2015 to quit snowboarding when she didn’t qualify for the 2014 Olympics due to injuries, and after years of injuries and mental struggles, she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. However, she continued going to the gym, using CrossFit as an outlet to help manage her mood and help her through the tough transition out of snowboarding. This, along with therapy and support from her friends and family, helped her overcome her mental health struggles.

“I believe that all setbacks are opportunities to learn something new.”

Looking back, the injuries and mental health issues I faced were big pivot points and moments of growth. For instance, I had to learn that I am enough, whether or not I am an Olympian or gold medalist. I also learned to appreciate the process of showing up and doing my best every day rather than focusing only on the end result.”

Natalie is now a passionate advocate for mental health, discussing it and other topics like mindset, habits, body image, lessons from sport to life and stories behind inspiring athletes and individuals in her podcast “ALL IN”. Past guests have included Olympic athletes, subject matter experts, world record holders, coaches and entrepreneurs

Natalie holding her dog

“When it comes to mindset, the most common tip my podcast guests share is to focus on what you can control. You can’t control the past, so don’t dwell on things you’ve lost. But you can control your actions moving forward and how you react to challenges.”

Natalie has shared her journey at several events and panels, including on the virtual TEDx stage in 2021, where she gave a talk called “Failure: What Not Making the Olympics Taught Me”.

Like many people, Natalie has struggled with her body image throughout her life. “Many experiences I had as a young female athlete, like feeling like I didn’t fit in and being stereotyped because of how muscular my body was, are still happening to young people today, so I share messages that would have helped me back then. I talk about my current and past struggles in case it could impact others who are in similar situations. For example, when I started CrossFit, a lot of the messages I saw and heard from coaches and fellow athletes were about needing to have a certain body fat percentage to be competitive. But after seeing that other successful CrossFit athletes come in a variety of body types, I realized that I didn’t have to look a certain way to achieve my goals. Having diverse representation in sport is important so people don’t rule out participating in a sport or activity because they don’t see themselves in it. Don’t let anyone tell you there are only certain sports or physical activities for you. “

“Find something you truly enjoy because if you like it, you’re more likely to stick with it.”

Know an Active Champion you’d like to see profiled? Email us at info@participaction.com.

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