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Episode #74

Embrace Your Strength

with Annie Kunz

10 May, 2022 · Heptathlon

Annie Kunz, professional heptathlete and olympian at the 2021 Tokyo olympics shares with us her journey with mental health, nutrition, and body image.

Voice In Sport
Episode 74. Annie Kunz
00:00 | 00:00


Episode #74

Athlete: Annie Kunz

“Strength is beautiful, embrace it!”

[00:00:00]Stef: Today’s guest is Annie Kunz, a professional heptathlete, former track and field athlete and soccer player at Texas A&M, and olympian.  

In this episode, Annie shares her journey with mental health, nutrition, body image, and what it took to rise to the college and professional level in sport. Annie shares with us how she uses resources in therapy and sports psychology to help her stay present in both her training and competitions.

Annie emphasizes that we shouldn’t compare our bodies to teammates or other athletes because we are all built differently and on our own journeys in sport. She reminds us to reframe our mindset and emphasize how beautiful our strength and muscles are. Inspired by her own journey in sport, Annie encourages us to challenge ourselves and see how we can push our bodies to perform to the best of our ability. 

Annie also offers us another perspective on how to deal with failure or setbacks. We think about reframing our mindsets to see this obstacle not as a failure but as a lesson and opportunity to ask ourselves what we as athletes can do to learn from this event and be more successful in the future.

I love what Annie shares with us today because she reminds us that our bodies, specifically our periods can be used as indicators to convey to us that our hormones are imbalanced or that we could feel more energized by fueling in a more effective way. We're so excited to have you here with us.

[00:00:04]Annie: Thank you. I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:07]Stef: It's incredible to see a dual athlete, and all of the development that you had along your journey. So, we're going to kind of talk about your journey to the Olympics because it's so interesting that you started out playing soccer, you ended up going to the Olympics in heptathlon, which is just an incredible sport and event.

I don't know how you do it. So, I'm excited to, I'm excited to learn a little bit more about just your journey in that, because it's very inspiring. And in your first Olympics you ended up sixth, which is incredible. Like, congratulations

[00:00:36]Annie: Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s been a journey.

[00:00:40]Stef: I bet. Yeah, And outside of representing USA Track and Field, you also have a huge passion for mental health and nutrition.

So, we're really going to dive in deep today on all of those components and what it means to be a female athlete. So, let's first start with your journey. Take us back to, you know, when you were really young growing up in Colorado what sports did you play and how did you land on becoming a heptathlete?

[00:01:05]Annie: Yeah, I mean, I pretty much did everything. My parents threw me in probably every sport you can think of. I did competitive dance. I did tennis, I did golf, I did basketball. And then they just kinda let me decide what I loved more and track and soccer were the two that I kinda just fell in love with. And I've been doing both and since I was two years old, track and field, and then I started soccer when I was three.

So, practically my whole life ever since I could walk. And I did both of them my whole life. So, in high school, they're in the same season in Colorado. And so I basically would just train for soccer because it's a team sport and then show up for track meets when I could. And then when it was determined to do both at Texas A&M and found the schools that were interested in me for soccer, because they recruit a little bit earlier and then I would go talk to those track coaches that I was interested in soccer and see if they would allow me to do both, fell upon Texas A&M and it was a dream come true school that I enjoyed so much.

I did both all four years. Did a red shirt year and did a fifth year of just track and field and got recruited from there out to the Olympic training center, after the Rio Olympic trials. And now I've been out there for four and a half years doing just track. And that's a really quick version, but that's my journey through track and soccer.

[00:02:19]Stef: Well, I want to go back to that time when you were loving both sports, you know, I think a lot of girls right now get pressured to pick one, and especially like in high school, like, Hey, you better double down and pick one if you want to succeed. So, did that conversation ever come up for you? And what advice would you have two girls right now, if they're feeling the same pressure?

[00:02:40]Annie: Yeah, that definitely came up. I even was pressured by like my club soccer teammates. So like, not even just coaches, but I remember my club team feeling really strongly that we should give up high school soccer to dedicate all of our time to club. But some of my best friends, since I could walk were in high school with me, we all played high school soccer.

And I just feel like it's an experience that like you'd never get back. And I was pretty stubborn and just said, no, I'm going to do high school soccer. I'm gonna do high school track. So, I just would encourage those girls to not feel pressured my gut told me I didn't want to give that up.

And so I was just dead set on making that work, and I still got scholarships to a division one school. So, I don't think it's the end all be all. I don't think you have to put all your eggs in one basket. I feel like I'm a more well-rounded athlete because I did so many different sports. I did high school volleyball. I did high school track cross country for a year, which was very short-lived. Longer distances are not my forte.

And then some of my most favorite memories are like winning state for high school. And I've been in so many different sports worlds and teams, and those are still to this day, some of my favorite memories.

So I would just encourage those girls to trust their gut. Don't feel pressure to do anything that they don't want to do. And yeah, I think that worked for me. And I was really stubborn in that and I'm kinda glad I was.

[00:03:59]Stef: Yeah, well, I feel like, you know, even though a lot of girls are pressured to kind of pick a sport, there's so many benefits to doing multiple ones.

It teaches you the importance of kind of that cross training. And so do you think do you think that really helped you in the end? Like did soccer help you in the end to get to sixth place in the Olympics in heptathlon?

[00:04:18]Annie: I think that you just learn different mentalities I mean, being part of a team sport and then being part of like an individual sport in track and field, I just feel like they really balance each other out. You learn so much between those. And I, I just felt like I didn't get over-trained in either one. I think that if you're just year round doing one sport, the likelihood of getting injured is a little bit higher, I would bounce around different sports and using different muscles and more balanced as an athlete.

So, I just think that really benefited me. And even through college, because a lot of my college friends got burnout because the off season training in your sport is really, really tough. And I would bounce back and forth between in season to in season because fall was soccer.

And then I would jump into in season for track and field. Which there's pros and cons to both, but I just feel like they really balance each other out and made me really excited to get into the next sport. I'm a huge advocate for dual sport kids. And I don't like that it's so pressured now to pick one so young, because I I've learned so much through both sports and they've really carried me so far in my professional career.

[00:05:17]Stef: Okay, so for girls, like sitting there thinking like she's literally, being told by her coach right now, you need to pick. What advice would you give her? Like what should she say back to her coach?

[00:05:27]Annie: I mean, it's really hard and it's, I think it's hard for girls that young because it's a person of authority telling you what you need to do. And so it can get really confusing. I would encourage her to, you know, take it back to your parents, talk it with your family, talk it over with your friends and, and see if that would be a benefit.

But to just respectfully say like, I respect your opinion. But this is really important to me. And if I fail, then that's on me, but this is how I feel in this moment. And I want to trust my gut and I'm not ready to give that up. That would be my encouraging words to kind of just respectfully disagree with your coach, if they're really pressuring you to do one sport.

[00:06:05]Stef: There you have it. Really great advice.

Okay. Okay. So you ended up going, you know, staying on track to doing both, you go to Texas A&M, but it must be tough to do like two sports juggling school and all that. So how did you juggle two sports? And what advice do you have to any athlete, even just doing one right now in college athletics to enjoy the experience, you know, and not get too stressed or pressured. What would your advice be?

[00:06:30]Annie: You know, If I could go back and like, especially in college I think you can get really caught up in just anxieties and worries and feeling like you're missing out on another one or, or each sport. And so I would just really encourage to be present in whatever moment you're in. That has been really grounding for me. And if I wish I could have done that back in college and even in high school, because everything's moving so quickly, especially when I was in the same season, I would go from soccer games to track meets. And I think you have to be really, really dedicated and decide this is what you want to do. And then just make it work.

I was really strategic and intentional with my time. I would over communicate with my coaches and come up with a plan each week that worked, that wouldn't run me into the ground where I still had time to do my homework. I was in AP classes growing up and there were nights that I would stay up late because I had to and that's just part of it.

But I would say over communicating with your coaches and being really intentional and dedicated to making it work because, for me, it was just my passion. I didn't want to do anything else. And so I just found a way to make it work. There are so many times you can come up with excuses and why to miss this training or why, you know, I would have to manage my time really differently.

I would miss track practice because it was at same time as soccer, so I would sometimes go to soccer. And then with my sister, who's a track coach, afterwards, we would find the park or the track and I run down and get like a 30 minute training. So just being really intentional and dedicated and determined to just make it work if that's what's important to you.

[00:07:51]Stef: I love it. You obviously were successful. You made it through college as a dual sport athlete and then went on to the Olympics, so when you take a look back, what. do you think contributed the most to your success?

[00:08:04]Annie: Oh man. You know, I've honestly been so lucky and fortunate to have some incredible human beings in my life. I've just gotten really, really blessed with amazing coaches that I think instilled in me really amazing values, like determination and resiliency sacrifice and just being a good human first, being a good teammate first.

And I'm really, really fortunate looking back to just have those people in my life. Kind of guiding me through this whole journey. That's been forever my whole life. I definitely give so much credit to those people and just in raising me and keeping me grounded in a lot of aspects, and I'm still super close with my high school coaches.

I'm still close with my first track coach ever that started with me when I was like eight years old. So I think I've been really, really lucky with that. I also just think it's been part of my personality to just be the go getter and super, super determined and competitive, like overly competitive where I just I've always wanted this.

I look back and I've always, always dreamed about making the Olympics and becoming a professional athlete. And so I think I just naturally to have that, you know, determination inside of me and discipline. But it's been a lot of learning experiences along the way college was up and down. I, you know, there's a lot of comparisons that go through when you're training side by side with girls in college and your body's changing.

And so I think I've just taken all of my failures and learned they're not failures. They're lessons. And I would say that's probably one of my biggest advice is when you do fail, you change your perspective to what did I learn from that to be successful in the future? And I think that's really carried me a long way.

[00:09:43]Stef: Yeah, it's so important. Well, so I want to talk a little bit about how you transitioned from college life to being a pro athlete. What was that transition like?

[00:09:52]Annie: I would say it was all in. I always felt like that was something that I wanted to do. I was either going to go professional in soccer or track and field. Transitioning from collegiate to professional is a wake-up call. I will be the first to say that everything up until that moment is handed to you.

It's taken care of your colleges are taken care of, your travel, your, your sports med and physio people, your hotels, everything is taken care of for you. There's a routine built in. You just kind of follow in line, when you turn to that professional phase of your life, it's all on you.

And I think that was a really big wake up call especially because I got injured pretty much like six months into training professionally, and I was out for five months and that was the time I really realized, like I'm on my own out here. And this is on me. I don't really have a coach every day out here pushing me because my coach had other athletes that were training professionally.

And so it was a huge wake up call. There were many, many, many days crying, wondering what I was doing, self doubt, like, did I make the right decision? Am I cut out for this? But I think if you just continue to, I hate to sound so cliche, but trust the process and just show up every day and give your best effort, it might not show right then, but it will turn to a really positive thing later on. And if I look back at that first year, and it was a huge, huge struggle, but I'm here now and I'm on the other side of it and I wouldn't be the athlete I am without those experiences.

[00:11:19]Stef: Well, I want to kind of unpack that time from when you left college to now you're 28, you just went to your first Olympics. You placed sixth in the heptathlon and let's just break down the heptathlon really quick. It's an event that has seven different events. So you have the a hundred meter hurdles, the high jump, the shotput, the 200 meters, long jump, the javelin throw, and the 800 meters. So, So, you know, not much,

[00:11:43]Annie: Just a few

[00:11:44]Stef: Just a tiny amount. So, between when you left and you had that rough first year of being a pro athlete, leading up then to the Olympics in 2021, tell us about that journey. And I'm sure there were ups and downs. So, what was the biggest struggle and how did you get through it.

[00:12:03]Annie: Oh man. I mean there was so many struggles. I mean, when I first graduated, I came to the center. I was training with Erica Bougard, who is my now training partner. She's been the top heptathlete in the US for like the last eight years. And so I think I really struggled with comparing myself to her and just feeling like I wasn't good enough.

And I struggled with my weight my first year. I had gained like, I think 10 pounds probably from when I was competing in college and wasn't understanding why I was working out harder than I ever had. I was trying to eat what I thought was healthy. So I really struggled with that. And that mentally, I think takes a really big toll on you because it's something that you never can put away, like it's just constantly on your mind at every meal. And so that was a huge struggle.

And then I got injured and there was a huge adversity cause I was really on my own doing my own rehab for five months. And I think I really realized I am on my own now there's no one to baby me. There's no one to help me here. This is really, if I want it, it's going to be down to me to make it happen.

So that happened and then I came in in 2018. I was really determined during that off season to come and really in shape. I did like kickboxing and classes and it was going on runs on my own.

I was really, really, really working hard in that off season to come and fit. And then from there on, I started really seeing some improvement. I also found my metabolic analysts who helped me figure out my nutrition and my supplement routine. And that's when 2019 like really took off for me. And I PR-ed, finally, I had been searching for that PR for like two years.

I had a bunch of PBs and individual events, and from there on I've just continued to improve. But then we all hit COVID and that was a huge struggle. So, it's, it really was like every other year there was something happening that it was an up and down journey. I kept placing, like, I think I got fourth or fifth at USA's, like in 2017, 2018.

So, I was just off that top three spot. And then COVID hit and I think everyone struggled. And I struggled with mental health and depression and really battled through that, but worked my butt off through COVID because I didn't want to lose anything.

I wanted to gain on girls and use my time efficiently. And it really made all the difference going into the Olympics and the Olympic trials. And I feel like I'm just continuing to learn more about this sport and learn more about my body and myself and I am really excited about the future.

[00:14:28]Stef: Well, we know mental health is just such a big passion of yours. And over the past year and a half, I think COVID is really, you know, presented a lot of challenges. And a lot of us have been struggling with mental health issues. And, You know, we're trying to talk about it more at Voice in Sport because it's important to get rid of the stigma.

Hey, it's part of our lives. It's part of everybody's lives. And so we need to talk about it. So I want to dive a little deeper into your experience leading up to the Olympics. And just how you recognize that you were having some mental health issues. Like how'd you know you were not in a good spot and then what steps did you take to talk to somebody about it.

[00:15:04]Annie: Yeah. I mean, for me, I think I've had like relationship depression, like where you're just sad from a breakup I've never had, like, I can't get out of bed in the morning and I don't know why everything in my life is great. Just life depression. And that really hit me during COVID when the Olympics got postponed.

And we thought they were going to get canceled at one point. And I think when you're giving up so much in your life, you're putting careers off, you're sacrificing so much for this one thing. And then that gets ripped away from you. I think a lot of us struggled with our identity and who am I without my sport?

And what am I going to do if this doesn't happen? This is what I've been working for for so long. This has been my dream. So I really struggled. I remember it would take me like hours to just get out of bed in the morning. I was just dragging to do the most mundane things. I remember my dog like needed to go to the vet and I put it off for like two weeks until he was scratching himself to like bleeding because he had allergies and I just had not made the appointment.

So it was this things like that that were really off for me. I'm like typically a really happy person. And my light was just kind of really dimmed and it took me probably like two and a half months to not be in denial about that. I remember it kinda hit me one night where I came down, the, my boyfriend on the couch and I started crying and I said, I think I'm depressed, and I don't know what to do about it. And I just don't feel right. I don't feel like myself. I'm not happy person that I normally am. And he said, I think you're right. And I think I've seen the signs and like, let's get you in somewhere to go talk to someone.

So, I found a therapist. She's amazing. She's like a therapist, life coach, Terry. And I just am so grateful. I found her, I found my mental coach for sports specific help. And I've been working with him for about a year. So I really found two people that were experts in this and helping me get out of this lull and this slump that I was in. And it made a world of difference.

And I think just realizing that you can't do it on your own sometimes. And acknowledging when when your behaviors are different than your normal behavior. And you're just not really happy. You just have to recognize that and accept. And then take the steps to get yourself out of it.

And, and typically I think that's talking to someone and finding the experts in their field to help you get out of that.

[00:17:22]Stef: Well, I love that you also, you know, you started with a psychologist and then you went even into like a more narrow field of the mental performance coaching and they both offer really important things and perspectives to us as humans. Right. And I do think it's, it's as important as an athlete to realize that, Hey, that's, there is the mental performance side that we need to like, you know, focus on just like our physical bodies. We need to focus on our mental performance, but then there is another component of human psychology.

And talk to us about the difference between your sessions that you had with your mental performance coach and your psychologist.

[00:18:02]Annie: Yeah. I mean, they really bounce. I think they go pretty well together. My therapist actually has specialized in meditation for like 30 years. And then my mental coach is a mindfulness in sport, mental coach. So a lot of meditation, things like that. So I'm glad that they kind of coincided really well with that.

But I mean, so my therapist really gets down to those like raw things in your life, those traumas, how you grew up, your parents, what makes you, you, and I think that really helped me understand myself on a whole other level that I never had before. Just finding out what makes you tick and why you are the way you are.

My mental coach, he really helps me simplify everything within the heptathlon because there's so many events. It can get really overwhelming and there's a lot of anxieties and worries that pop up. And he's really helped me become present in my life.

Not just in my sport, it's really seeped into every other aspect of my life, whether it's being with my friends or my parents, or just everyday situations where I'm learning how to be present in the moment that I'm in and not get lost in those past moments of depression or past things that've already happened and then worries of the future.

So that's kind of the difference between the two that I experienced. And I'm just super grateful for both of those people. They've made just a huge difference in my life and I am so, so grateful.

[00:19:24]Stef: That's amazing. And, I want to know for some girls that haven't ever gone to a sports psychologist or a psychologist or a coach and they're maybe feeling like they need to, but they're feeling a little hesitant, you know, cause there's a stigma, and we were trying to get rid of that stigma. Like what would you say to that girl? Like what would you want to whisper to her?

[00:19:45]Annie: I feel like there is a stigma and it's just frustrating for me because if you want to lose weight or you want to figure out your nutrition, you go and you find a nutritionist, you find a metabolic analyst, you find people that are experts in that field. If you want to get better at the heptathlon, you find a track coach that can help you with your technique.

So I feel like you need a coach in that aspect, especially because it is so important in sport. Like the mental side of sport I would say is 90% of the battle and it probably gets neglected the most. So, I would just really encourage those girls to forget that stigma. It is probably the best thing you could do for yourself to get in there and talk through these things.

Because just there's so many things that can happen. I felt even like, what am I going to talk about with this guy every week with my sport? Like, is there even anything to talk about? And before I know it, the session's over, like, there's just things that you don't even realize you need to talk about and figure out and work through. That I think it really does make the world of difference. If you want to get better in your sport, and it's not even just your sport, it's your life. They're life lessons, they're life values that really will take you a long way past your sport when you get a job, when you're in a relationship, like it seeps into every aspect of your life. So, I cannot advocate enough for therapy and mental health coaching. I think it makes the world of difference.

[00:21:03]Stef: And for any of those girls that are listening, make sure you go to Voice in Sport and join us because we have some free sessions from some of the best sports psychologists, mental performance coaches, and you can also get a one-on-one with a lot of amazing women. So sometimes you just got to try, you know, you got to try a bunch out until you find somebody that you really connect with. And one of my biggest fears is like a, girl's going to try one and then like not have a good experience and not go back.

[00:21:28]Annie: I would say too, like, cause I tried a few, like you really it's so important. I'm glad you touched on that because it is really defining someone you connect with in that, because I've had sports psychologists in the past where I'm just like, okay, this isn't working. Like I'm just halfway there. And I'm like, okay, I'm over this. Like, what are you telling me? So, I would really, really, really encourage just to keep trying until you find someone that you really connect with and then give it like a few sessions. Because even for me the first session, you can't tell enough. So I would say give it like, you know, three sessions at least to kind of get a feel and then, and then go from there.

[00:22:01]Stef: I love it. Okay. Well, thank you. Let's talk about then how that sort of helped you get to the Olympics. So, now fast forward to 2021, finding the Olympics are on you're in Tokyo, you're about to do seven events. Like how do you get yourself ready for something like that, and

then perform at that most elite level?

[00:22:19]Annie: Well, I mean, all of that preparations didn't even just start a year ago, but I've been preparing that for five years, but really this last year I give it all to the mental side of it. And I've been doing daily meditations . It's all about learning how to become present in the moment you're in.

And that, especially with the heptathlon with seven different events, it's so easy to get lost in all your different events and thinking about ones before you're even there and thinking about past performances or this event didn't go well. And now I'm bringing that into the next. So really, really learning how to be present in the moment I am in and execute just one foot in front of the other, in that moment has really, really helped me.

And then it's helped me just get rid of those anxieties that, that pop up that performance anxiety that is so common in athletes. And I, I think just simplifying things in that way really helped me come a long way because before I just would be an emotional wreck, I would take awful performances into my next one. And just learning that, you know, if you have a bad day, it doesn't dictate the next day. It doesn't dictate the next performance. It doesn't dictate the next set moment. It's a new moment in each moment, and I think that really helped me just calm everything going into those big moments, because, you know, it's five years retraining for one track meet.

So, you can really lose yourself in those pressure situations. And so my mental coach has helped me a ton with that. And then also just using different breathing exercises to calm my central nervous system. That helps me a ton because when your heart rate gets up and you feel that anxiety I also just kind of switch it because the sensation of anxiety is the same as nervous.

It's just when you have nerves and when you have anxiety or when you're excited, it's all the same sensation. It's just how we label them. So instead of saying like, I have anxiety right now, I'm like, oh, this just means I'm really excited. Like I care about this. And I think even just changing that perspective and then using those tools, like the breathing exercises is really helped me to calm myself in those high pressure moments. And that made a world of difference. This year and the Olympic trials and the Olympics.

[00:24:22]Stef: So, what is your favorite? Like go-to like breathing technique that you do before a race.

[00:24:27]Annie: it kind of depends if I'm doing like a sprint, like a 200 or my 100 hurdles, it's more just one count in and out. Just kinda deep, like, like that. Just kind of like more quick ones, because that's just gets me up a little bit more where you want that adrenaline.

If I'm doing like a throws event or a jump, I do like in for four count and then out really slow for eight count, and that calms my central nervous system. And you don't want to think about like bringing your shoulders up and getting tense when you're breathing. It's all, diaphragmic big belly breathing.

And a lot of that is what I've learned even through meditation. I do a meditation before every meet. I do it the night before. I do like a sport specific one the morning of, and then the night before I just do one, that's a really calm, just being present in this moment, acceptance, a lot of acceptance meditations, which have helped me a ton because they think becoming accepting in sport is really hard, but it can be amazing if you let yourself get there.

Especially like with hard events, like my 800 accepting pain through the race, instead of denying that it's there. That's helped me a ton. And yeah, so those are my little tools that I've used, especially this last year that have just really, really helped me a ton. I've seen a huge difference.

[00:25:39]Stef: I love that it's such great tips. And as you're doing those breathing techniques, we can see each other. It's like reminding me of giving birth to my two kids.

[00:25:48]Annie: Yeah, seriously, my girl friend is pregnant, and I was literally giving her my breathing techniques and I was like, do this when you're, you're you're going through that pain, like, accept that it's there. So you can use it in all aspects of your life.

[00:25:59]Stef: That's right. You could use it in a high pressure, corporate settings, like you're going into a boardroom. I mean, honestly

[00:26:04]Annie: Hundred percent.

[00:26:04]Stef: the, those techniques that you were talking about right now are so useful for life in general. So I kind of want to talk then about like the post-Olympic situation, because it can be really hard as an athlete. Like when so much of your identity is wrapped up in your performance and being an athlete and being at the Olympics how do you deal with this or the other end of it when you come home and you want to tap back into like your whole person, the whole human that you are. can you share a little bit about this?

Cause I, one of the things often our community asks us is to give presentations on our platform. on finding your identity outside of sport. It's so important. So, how have you sort of navigated that throughout your career? And then most recently coming back from the Olympics.

[00:26:52]Annie: I think throughout my career and partly maybe because I've just done so many different sports and I've created so many relationships through that. I think that I've always been pretty good about not relying on sports for my identity. It sounds weird because I've done so many sports and it's been my whole life for as long as it has, but I really try to prioritize the things that make me happy outside of my sport.

I took up pottery at one point because I loved that in high school. And then I continued on, I took classes in my free time. I really prioritize time with my friends and my family because that just recharges my batteries. I find hobbies that I'm really passionate about. I walk my dog at the beach and I find little coffee shops that I love cause that's like my little thing. I love finding new coffee places. Books that I'm reading that are like fictional thrillers and things like that. I think you really have to tap into and figure out what makes you happy outside of your sport and really making sure you stick to making those a priority as well in your free time.

That's really helped me and like watching like HGTV and things and like flipping houses and stuff that I love that stuff. I play this little design game on my phone. It's little things like that, that you just find the other things that you're passionate about that make you, you, and make you happy and fill you up has really, really helped me.

I know a lot of people struggle after the Olympics because it's this pinnacle moment that we've been working for for our entire lives. And then you're there and it goes by in the blink of an eye and it's over and you can kind of sit there and feel a little bit lost.

And for me, I think if I hadn't done the work with my mental coach as well, just accepting moments as they come and not getting stuck in past times has really helped me. I know I did sixth and that sounds amazing, but I know that I can do better really wasn't my best meet.

And so I could have gotten really down about that, but I just take it as a lesson. I accept what happened. I was proud of the way I fought through that heptathlon. And that was a huge lesson that, you know, I almost fell on the hurdles and I still placed sixth. So I think being accepting of moments and then making sure I prioritized my time with the things that fill me up.

So for me, that's like coming home right now. I'm home for 10 days with my family and friends, I'm going to an A&M CU football game. I'm doing normal life things that I don't normally get to do. And that's really helped me coming off the Olympics. Enjoying my life, enjoying the people that love me, because at the end of the day, they don't love you for your sport. They love you for you. And so really just investing in those people in those and those friendships. And those memories has really helped me kind of figure out who I am outside of my sport.

[00:29:28]Stef: Love that such good advice. Well, one of the, one of the reasons why I found you is because I read this amazing NPR article on sort of female athletes, sports science, and one thing that really stood out in that article was you had a quote that said, I've definitely had coaches in soccer and track that just bluntly would say to me, if you lost 10 pounds, you'd be great.

And, you know, I think that, that I want to pivot a little bit to now like that other part of the other component of being a great athlete, which is fueling your body the right way. And just kind of go back and talk about some of the things you've already said. You've mentioned a little bit, it's like, you know, it's hard to not compare yourself to others along the journey. And, you know, in previous conversations you've mentioned that also in college, you struggled in that area with, you know, fueling your body properly. So, can you kind of take us back to how that started for you? And when that coach did say that, how that impacted you and what it resulted in?

[00:30:27]Annie: Yes, I mean, for me, for high school, I was a beanpole. Like I was like a double zero extra long jeans. Like I was skinny, many people called me olive oil. And then my body changed a lot. When I got to college, your hormones set in, I was a late bloomer, you're eating things or drinking or not knowing how to feel your body properly.

So, I did struggle with that. And I remember my training partner was smaller than me and I always was comparing myself to her body. And then you have coaches and I think mostly male coaches I've had in my life, and they just aren't tactful with the things that they say. I had some really, really blunt coaches and some would make it like, it was a joke.

I remember our soccer coaches would just say, oh, you looking a little chubby or, but like in a way that they were joking and you're like, I'm going to take that to heart. And as girls, you really do. It's, it's really, really hard. And I think especially as you get into that college phase of your life, your body changes so much, your hormones are changing a ton and it really becomes hard to navigate.

And for me, I just didn't have any really great resources. I was at a division one school, but the nutritionist that we had just wasn't really helping me. And so I really struggled with comparing I honestly struggled with that up until about 2018 when I found my metabolic analyst, because even when I got to the training.

I had gained some weight and I was drinking a little bit more. I'm going to be completely blunt. Like I probably wasn't doing the things that I should in that aspect of my life, but I also was trying to eat really healthy and I wasn't understanding what I was doing wrong. It was really frustrating because I would look at my training partners and I remember they would have like a pizza at dinner, like two nights before a meet, and I'm here eating like chicken and salad, and I don't understand what's going on or why I'm not looking like them. And so that was a big, big struggle for me until I found my metabolic analyst. And I've learned so much about how to fuel your body. I honestly was eating a lot of the right things. It was just how I was eating them.

Wasn't really proper for what I needed and how I needed to fuel my body. And I wasn't eating enough protein, like at all. Like it was way lower than what I should have been eating. I also figured out a bunch of things about like chemicals and fragrance and how that disrupts your hormones and your body.

And like just different places that you carry your weight will tell you different things. So like, I was carrying my weight in my hamstrings, in my butt. It was where I would gain all my weight, no matter what I did, I didn't understand. And my metabolic analyst, Cynthia modular Leoni she's out in Hawaii. She's amazing. She told me that that means that my hormones are imbalanced. And so she put me on a supplement regimen that really helped me a ton. I was deficient in magnesium. I was deficient in fiber. A lot of it's just figuring out what your deficiencies are, where your hormone imbalances are, and then taking supplements to combat that and cutting out fragrance and chemicals in your cleaning products, in your shampoos and your makeup in everything that you're putting on your skin, that's your biggest organ. So if you're using stuff with chemicals and fragrance, it's going to disrupt your hormones and you're going to gain weight in your hamstrings and your butt. And so like, things like that, Oh, my gosh. Like I would never like know no that, and I remember she took my numbers, she does like a pinch test thing. And my numbers were like 50, I think, in my hamstrings and after a month and a half of cutting out synthetic fragrance and changing my diet the way she told me to I was down to like 20 or 25. So I cut my numbers in half and like a month and a half. So just finding like what works for your body, everyone is so different too. I think that a lot of times girls think that it's like a one size fits all for nutrition or diet. And it really is about figuring out what works for you and testing different routes until you find that finding people that are the experts in what they do, and I was blessed enough to find Cynthia and she's helped me so much.

So yeah, that's a long spiel about what I've gone through and and kind of what I've learned, but it's really hard as young girls, especially cause your hormones and your bodies are so different than guys, too. So it's just really hard to figure out and navigate I think.

[00:34:25]Stef: Well, I want to thank you for sharing that. And I know everybody's journey is different. I think that's really important for girls to know everybody's, body's different. Everybody's journey is different, how you fuel is going to be different. So it's so important not to compare yourself with others, especially body types.

You know, we are all given a different type of body and then we all need to feel differently. And it's so hard to do when you're in a sport and you constantly sort of look to the left and look to the right. But it's important to know that, like there's not just one body type that can be successful in,

in your

[00:34:58]Annie: and yeah, you look at me and my training partner, Erica. Erica is 5' 7" super tiny. I mean her calves are like a toothpick compared to mine, my quads and my hamstrings are like twice as big as hers. And so I could easily get caught up in like, oh, I wish I looked like her, but she has different strengths than I do.

She's, you know, she's a little bit faster than me. I'm stronger. I'm more of like a power person. She's more of a speed person. We're just completely different athletes, but we're both successful in what we do. So I, yeah, I just, I really encourage girls to not compare to your training partners, to other girls, especially in society right now with Instagram and Tik Tok and everything is edited. And, and it's very easy to go down that rabbit hole, so just really trying to just figure out what works for you and know that your body type might be a little bit different and that's not a bad thing.

[00:35:47]Stef: Let's like try to bust this myth that's out there that thinner is faster and lighter is

[00:35:54]Annie: I hate it.

[00:35:54]Stef: Can we like this bust? Can we bust that? How do bust that?

[00:35:58]Annie: It's false. It's false. I like strong, like strong is better. Strong and fit is better. Muscles are amazing. They are beautiful. I am such an advocate for strong over skinny and I hate that myth because it's not true. It's not true. You're not going to be as successful. You need your muscles, you need your strength, you need a little cushion. And so being thinner is not always better.

[00:36:23]Stef: I love that. That's also why I named the company VIS because VIS equals force and power in

[00:36:29]Annie: Yes

[00:36:30]Stef: And

[00:36:30]Annie: Oh, I love that.

[00:36:31]Stef: We all want to embrace that. We want all girls to embrace that strength is beautiful.

[00:36:35]Annie: It's beautiful. Yeah.

[00:36:37]Stef: So important. So let's kind of, move a little bit then into body image, because I feel like body image and sort of eating and fueling your body, right, usually go hand in hand and we know it's actually, one of the reasons why girls fall out of sport is, you know, they start seeing muscles. They sort of feel like it doesn't fit what society thinks girls should look like. And then you get people dropping out. Which like, to me, it's like one of the main reasons why we're trying to have conversations like this, so that girls understand that, yes, it's normal to feel yourself, but, try to shift your mindset to not do that and embrace like how there are different forms of beauty out there. So, you know, what would you tell a girl right now that might be struggling with body image? You know, who's maybe spending too much time on social media comparing themselves. What advice would you have for her?

[00:37:26]Annie: First of all, I would try to limit the social media stuff. For me, even like the three months that I was training leading up to the Olympic trials, I really just deleted Instagram off my phone during the week. So I had it during the weekends and I could get on a little bit. But, I think when you're sitting there comparing yourself and seeing all these pictures of these girls that look perfect and everything is edited these days, you don't even know what you're really looking at.

I would really encourage you just try to limit like the social media stuff, especially. And I can't say enough to just embrace strength. Like it is so beautiful. Our bodies are meant to be powerful and strong and healthy. And when you're not fueling yourself properly, because you're trying to be skinny or smaller, or you think that's what people like, I would just encourage you to fight that and go against it and just embrace your beautiful body.

See what it can do. For me, that's what motivates me a lot too, is just, I want to see what I can do. I want to see how strong I can get. I want to see how far I can push my body. And if that makes me a little bit stronger, even looking than like guys and stuff, I don't care. I like embrace it. I think it's amazing. And I just think beautiful, muscles are so beautiful and yeah, I just encourage strength over skinny every day.

[00:38:39]Stef: I love it. I love it. Okay. Well, what do you do though? It just practically, what do you do if a coach is telling you to lose 10 pounds and you'll be faster? Like, what do you say back to them?

[00:38:48]Annie: Well, college, I didn't say anything. It totally put me in this like rabbit hole of insecurity. And I think it's really hard to know what to say in that moment. I mean, that's such a blunt, awful thing with no tactfulness whatsoever. I'm hoping like that things are getting a little bit better. I don't know. Back when I was in college and maybe, I don't know, I just got unlucky. But if coaches are saying that to you, I just really encourage you to take it with a grain of salt. Men do not understand the female body, especially, so if it's coming from a male, just take that with a grain of salt and try not to take it to heart too much.

And I try to really think of like coming at it with empathy and like, okay, maybe they didn't deliver that the right way, but they're just trying to tell me that I could maybe be a more efficient if I leaned up a little bit and maybe I just need to find someone to help me learn the healthiest way to do that.

Don't start restricting yourself and feeling like you can't have any carbs or you can't have any dessert ever. It's all about maintenance and finding a balance. I will tell you guys, I have chocolate every night. Like I love my sweets. I have dark chocolate that's like 70% cacao or 60% cacao. And I limit myself, so I don't have like the whole candy bar, but I definitely am having things that make me happy. I'm not going to like restrict myself fully. I love my potatoes. Like, you know, I restrict the certain carbs and I'm having, so I definitely like potatoes and fruits are like my main carbs and stuff, but it's all about balance. It's giving yourself your ch one to two cheat meals on the weekends. If someone approaches you like that, try to give them empathy and realize they're trying to come at you with something positive, it just was not delivered in the right way. And then finding an expert in that field to help you do that in the most healthy way you can.

[00:40:29]Stef: Yeah, that's right. And I think it's hard to also come up with like, what is the right response in a situation like that. But I do think using your voice is really important. Don't just take it, you know, if, if, if somebody is, yeah, if they're challenged, if they're telling you to lose 10 pounds or whatever it is I mean,

[00:40:45]Annie: And if you don't agree with that, like I always say I could have like leaned up and turned like five pounds of fat into muscle. That's a really big difference too. I don't like, especially male coaches, they get so caught up on the scale and I'm like, that's not, it's not where it's important. It's like your body composition and how much muscle do you have in your body? So my weight, I don't even weigh myself, I haven't weighed myself probably in over a year.

Like I just, I don't, I I've kind of figured out what works for me, but a lot of times your weight isn't really going to change too much. It's just your body composition. So your fat will turn into muscle and you could weigh the same exact weight. So do not get caught up on the scale, it's more about how you're feeling your body and turning that fat into muscle.

That's also, I think you really need to focus on and that would be my comeback. If a coach tells me that. I'd say, well, my fat weighs less than muscle, and so why are you telling me to lose 10 pounds? I've got this strength. I gained a muscle. I'm more powerful now. So there's different things that people focus on and I'm like, that shouldn't be the focus.

The weight on the scale should not be the focus all the time. It's what your body composition is.

[00:41:48]Stef: I love it. Okay. So anyone girl who's listening, that is your go-to, your go-to response is like one, say something don't just, don't just take that and walk away and then have it eat at you for months instead say, hey, can we talk about this? That kind of comment could really affect me. So now I'm number one, muscle weighs more than fat. Did you know that coach

[00:42:08]Annie: Yeah.

[00:42:09]Stef: and the number, number two, it's not about a number. And so I guess as an athlete, who is, you know, in a sport where it is about numbers in terms of your time across the finish line, how do you make sure you're not like over obsessing numbers at the end of the day, because that's not always the answer. And I think instead we want to focus on wellbeing, health, and performance, not the numbers. So how do you do that?

[00:42:35]Annie: I actually read this really amazing book it's called With Winning in Mind. And it, a lot of that is just changing how you think, instead of thinking outcome-based, it's thinking process based. And so, you know, it's so easy, especially in a sport like track and field, like I'm in where it's all based on your performance and your numbers and your score and your distance and your time.

It's so, so easy to just focus on the outcomes and really learning it all goes back to being present and staying in that moment and focusing on what you need to execute, not what your outcome needs to be, because if you're focusing on your outcome, you're going to skip your execution and then you're going to lose your outcome.

So literally I don't even keep track of what I'm doing in my head. Like, I don't even keep track of the numbers. I don't play with the score and what I need to get. I literally am just focusing on my cues, my two to three cues that I have for each event. And that's my only focus. There's nothing about numbers that I'm thinking about because you can get so lost and it will take you out of your event and and not allow you to be present and execute what you need to in that moment.

[00:43:39]Stef: So, what are the cues that you have that you're listening to your body to know that you're feeling yourself the best.

[00:43:44]Annie: Yeah, energy energy, especially in the morning. So I put a ton of protein in the morning, like steak, salmon, chicken. I eat nuts and berries. And so I get my fats, I got my carbs and my berries and I got my protein and eggs typically for me, aren't enough protein. And that was what I used to do. And so I've really upped my protein. And so I've noticed like if my energy is down early, that's a terrible sign, especially cause I practice in the morning and I remember days where I would just get on the line and I'm dragging just a warm up. Telltale sign that you are not fueled enough.

And then also just being tired, you know, I mean, you're going to get tired in the afternoons too, but I even have a protein shake, especially as soon as you're done working out, you throw that protein shake, you get your glutamine to recover your muscles because you can really drag in the afternoons as well.

And if you're not eating enough protein, you're gonna feel less energized. That's for me, my telltale sign And yeah, that's pretty much my main one that I kind of take note of. And if I'm tired during the mid day, I'm like, okay, I gotta eat more protein I gotta fuel myself better.

[00:44:46]Stef: Love that. So important. Well, you know, another reason why we are excited to talk to you is your passion in sports science and specifically the female body. So, we'll talk a little bit about the Voice in Sport Foundation. We started this nonprofit to supercharge sports science and research on the female athletic body because there's just not, Yeah, there's just not enough research out there. And so the foundation is solely focused on funding innovative research with amazing partners that we'll be announcing here soon in these areas and some of what you've talked about. So, what do you think is just like the most interesting thing that you have learned about the female body and how you have used that to improve your health and performance.

[00:45:27]Annie: I mean, man, I think the female body, I think talking about your period and menstruation and learning how to train when it comes to that week every month has been super interesting for me. I also think just being on different birth controls and things like that can really affect your hormones and I've even battled with that just trying to find what fits for me because you know, when you're getting those really bad cramps and you have a workout and you got to get on the line and you feel like you just want to be in the fetal position things like that, where I've really learned to like communicate with my coach, when those things are happening, I have a guy coach and it can be awkward, but that for me just learning the female body and when it comes to your period, when you have symptoms like that, when you have cramps or fatigue or bloating, That's your body telling you something's off. So, learning what you're deficient in or where your hormones are imbalanced, a lot of times, those things are coming from your cycle, your cycle's telling you really important things about your body and something might be off.

So that for me, I think has been the most interesting thing that I've learned over the last few years, because that used to be such a battle that week of my period and being more aware of like, okay, this is like my first couple of days of my cycle, I noticed when it's my first couple of days, because in practice, I am just so much harder on myself. I think it's the end of the world. If I'm doing bad, I just have this like self doubt. I don't feel like myself. And that's because you're on your cycle. So, being aware of that and open about it has really helped me, and I just think the female body is so beautiful and it's so incredible how we get these signs from our body is telling us something might be off. And so really digging into that and finding out what's going on is super helpful for me and has helped me in even just in the last couple of years with training,

[00:47:14]Stef: I love it Well, we are aiming to help girls realize that their period is, their superpower. So

[00:47:19]Annie: It is. It is.

[00:47:21]Stef: We, we have a couple of really amazing episodes you guys should check out if you're listening on periods with some incredible experts, but it is something that we can actually use to like increase our performance if we understand our bodies and we pay attention to sort of like our flow, you know, when things are happening. And then also just the relationship of sleep and recovery when it comes to your cycle.

So, you know, I want to kind of like back up though. Cause I feel like this is something that probably happens a lot because there's not enough female coaches right now out there. So, there's a lot of young girls out there that have male coaches and, you know, they might not have the relationship that you have with your male coach. How do you talk to your male coach about your period and bring it up for the first time if it's never been brought up before, just sort of start that conversation and make it okay.

[00:48:09]Annie: I mean, it's always going to be awkward. I don't think your first conversation about it is ever going to be like super normal or comfortable, no matter how nice your coach is. So I remember it being really awkward, but I remember feeling like it almost a little isolating when this is going on and you can't really talk about it and your coach might not understand why you're not doing as well in practice or why you're having self doubt or why you're more tired or why you might need more recovery.

So, I would just encourage girls to know that it's going to be awkward and going into that, but just saying, I mean, you don't have to be like, Hey, I'm on my period just saying, Hey, it's that time of the month. That's kind of how I always voice it because guys just get awkward and uncomfortable.

[00:48:53]Stef: You know what though? They should feel awkward.

[00:48:54]Annie: I know they should. I be like, you don't have to go through this. So you don't really understand. And I'm going to tell you what this is like. So I'm super upfront about it and just being like, Hey, it's this time of the week. I'm feeling this, like, do you think we can manage my week a little differently? I might need more recovery today. I'm just feeling really fatigued. I have cramps. Like whenever we have cramps we'll just straight up tell our coach and just say, hey, I am like really struggling today. Can we modify the week? So I can take today to recover and just lay in bed because I'm just not feeling myself. I don't feel well.

We've done that multiple, multiple times. So, I mean, it's going to be awkward, but I think just being upfront about what you're feeling, because they can't make an educated decision on your training if they don't have all the information. So I've really tried to just be open and honest about it and try to just accept that it's going to be awkward, that it works for me.

[00:49:44]Stef: I think if we can go in as girls and just be like, okay, yes, this might be an awkward conversation, but it's going to be more, more awkward for him than it is going to be for me. So just go for it,

[00:49:54]Annie: Just go for it, make them feel uncomfortable. It's hilarious.

[00:49:58]Stef: And do all the dads that might be listening to this podcast. We do love you. Okay. And we love you

[00:50:02]Annie: And it's just a part of life like men this is just a part of life. It's a thing that every single female in the world deals with. So, get over it and just deal with it.

[00:50:14]Stef: Oh, okay. And then definitely if you're listening, go check out Your Period is a Super Power podcast

[00:50:19]Annie: I want to listen to that. I'm gonna have to check that out after this.

[00:50:21]Stef: I think you'd really love it. We break down like the different parts of the cycle and how to think about your nutrition and your recovery for each part of it.

[00:50:28]Annie: And there's even apps that you can use, like Flow. You can track with it. There's so many different resources now to track that stuff. And I would highly encourage girls to do that because it's so helpful becoming aware of what's going on with your body.

[00:50:38]Stef: That's right. Like that's one thing that I wish I would have done younger in my career in sport is like, just recognize, okay. Like my body has this sort of natural flow and it will tell me if things are not right. It will tell me if I'm under fueling,

[00:50:53]Annie: Which is like, so cool. Like, guys don't get that. They don't have something that's communicating to them. Be like, hey, this is going on, like check this out. They, they are they're out there in the dark. They don't have a clue. So like women, it is our super power. It's a really cool aspect of our body.

[00:51:07]Stef: Absolutely. Well, we've built the Voice in Sport community to really ensure that there is a safe space for girls to talk about things like this, to ask for help. But often, you know, we find ourselves in situations where we are around our teammates and we see them struggling. So I want to just talk about just how do we help each other, you know, as a community of women in sport, one, what are the signs that you should look out for in your teammates to see if they're struggling with something and two like what are some of the ways that teammates or friends can support each other when they do recognize that their teammates might be going through something.

[00:51:40]Annie: Yeah. I mean, I've had experiences with this with teammates even just this last year, especially with being an Olympic year. A lot of girls a lot of people are more intense, are more anxious, are more irritable. And so, I mean, we've had experiences couple of my teammates and I where I think the signs are a little bit of isolation from my experiences.

If you notice someone saying no to hanging out or like we're in dorm situations with like, not coming out of your room or just not being as social. I think that is a telltale sign that something's up. Also maybe just a little bit more negative or sharp or just when you see someone that's just not behaving, like, you know them to behave that usually means they're battling something internally. Personally, I personalize everything, so I'm like, what did I do to this person? Like, did I do something? Did I say something? Really try to not internalize if someone is not acting themselves, that really almost 99% of the time means they're battling something internally.

So my advice, would to just be show them love in those moments, even if they're not as nice to you or defensive, or just seem off, don't personalize it, don't internalize it. And then what we've done in the past is just, you know, set up like, hey, come hang out. And then just in a loving way to be like, hey, I really care about you.

I'm seeing this, this, and this is everything okay. I just want to check in and I want you to know I'm here. If you need anyone to talk to. I've also helped one of our girl friends find a therapist and a sports psychologist that had helped them so that they don't feel comfortable talking to me, let's find you, someone that you do feel comfortable talking to.

So really just showing love and empathy and not internalizing things when someone's acting off, because it, it almost always is they're battling their own demons.

[00:53:26]Stef: That's so wise, it's hard to do that as humans, you know, to not to not internalize like, oh, that person's like something's gone within, like, it must be it's affecting me in this way

[00:53:35]Annie: Or screw them, like they're being like so rude, like screw that person. And it's like, oh, like let's just show them love. Like they must be really battling something and let's have some empathy for that.

[00:53:45]Stef: Yeah. Ah, so important. Well, thank you, Annie, for just like incredible open conversation that you've had with us. I know our community of girls will benefit greatly from hearing all of the things you talked about today.

[00:53:57]Annie: So.

[00:53:59]Stef: I know, so and I, and I'm excited to have you part of Voice in Sport our community. I think we'd love to hear just one piece of advice that you would tell a young girl in sport.

[00:54:07]Annie: Oh man. Keep showing up every day, even when it's hard, even when it feels like you aren't capable, and it doesn't feel fun. If you are passionate about something, you have a dream just keep showing up. If you show up every day and give your best, it will pay off in the end.

That would be my one piece of advice and also just stay present, especially young girls that are in high school or club or college that goes by so quick. I'm 28 now, and I feel old, but I feel like I was just there and I wish I could have telled my younger self to just enjoy the moment that I'm in, because it does go by so quick.

And it's such special experiences that you guys are in. So just really enjoy the moment that you're in and soak it in because it goes by quick. And yeah, those would probably be my two pieces of advice that I would give.

[00:54:54]Stef: I love that you said that, you know like, What is it that, you miss the most, you know, kind of looking back on those, like high school, early college years, what do you miss the most that you wish you would have been more present for?

[00:55:06]Annie: I mean, I think you get into the real world, you got bills, you don't get like as much of a social life. I think just being in this atmosphere of like all these amazing people, these amazing athletes that you're friends with and you get to go through these experiences with, with championships or even just college, like going out on the weekends and being with your best friends. It's just such a special time in your life, and it, when you're in the moment, it's so easy to be excited about the next thing like, oh, I can't wait to graduate college. I can't wait to do this. I can't wait to do that. And you lose the moment you're in. So I would just really, really highly encourage to just really soak in the moment, whatever moment you're in, in life, because those relationships, those people, those memories are going to be some of the best in your life and just try to cherish them and be intentional about being present.

[00:55:54]Stef: So good. Okay. Well, one last question. Let's be intentional about how we change the future of women's sports

[00:56:01]Annie: Yes,

[00:56:01]Stef: So yeah, the last question I have for you is like, what is one thing, and I know it's hard to find one, but one thing that you would like to see changed for the future of women's sports.

[00:56:11]Annie: Oh man. I mean, I think we're seeing a little bit of change, but I think just having these topics, like we just talked about like your menstrual cycle, weight, mental health, I think being, oh, and that's why I've tried to be as super open as I can, because this is like I'm on the other side of the Olympics and it might seem like, oh, I just got here and it was easy, but it's been really, really tough.

And there's been so many up and down battles. And I think just being open about those experiences is so important because it's not easy for anyone and we all have our battles, we all have things that we're struggling with. Even if life is good, you still have things that you're struggling with, and I feel like just changing that stigma of you know, something's wrong with you if you go to therapy or, you know, not being able to talk about your period with your coach, it's just, it's ridiculous to me. And I would just really want to advocate for being more open about topics like that and mental health and nutrition and weight gain and weight loss and everything encompassing, all of that. I just think we need to be more open and create a safe space for women in sports to talk about these things.

[00:57:12]Stef: Well, you said it best, and you're a great example. So thank you so much. Thank you. so much for being part of Voice in Sport and for coming on the podcast. We're really excited to see what you're going to do next, and you're an inspiration to a lot of young girl.

[00:57:26]Annie: Oh, thank you. That means the world to me. I'm so happy I could come on and hopefully share some of my experiences to help some young girls. And also thank you for giving me the opportunity. I appreciate it.

[00:57:35]Stef: Absolutely.This week’s episode was produced and edited by VIS Creator Elizabeth Martin, a soccer player from Emory University. 

Annie’s journey through track and field, soccer, and now as a professional heptathlete inspires us to take charge of our mental and physical health to elevate our performance and strength. Often, as female athletes, we face challenges when it comes to nutrition, weight, or mental health, so we thank Annie for sharing her experience and how she found the resources to elevate her journey in sport. 

No matter what you are struggling with, Annie reminds us that our bodies are all different, strong, and  beautiful, so we should embrace ourselves. Everyone’s journey in sport is different, so embrace the present and appreciate where you are in your journey. 

We are so thankful that Annie shared her story with us today. We are so excited to see all the incredible things she will achieve in sport and beyond, in the future. 

You can follow Annie on Instagram at @annie_kunz7 and on twitter @Annie_kunz. 

Please subscribe to the Voice in Sport Podcast, give us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and send this episode to a friend that you think might enjoy the conversation. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok @voiceinsport. 


See you next week on the Voice in Sport Podcast.

Annie Kunz, professional heptathlete and olympian at the 2021 Tokyo olympics shares with us her journey with mental health, nutrition, and body image.