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Welcoming winter with big mountain skier Mark Abma

Welcoming winter with big mountain skier Mark Abma

At the first signs of snow, Mark takes the plunge into winter — literally.

Winter brings with it a notorious plethora of changes. Whether it is adjusting to the colder temperatures and shorter days, craving comfort foods, or an all-consuming excitement to hit the slopes, it can take intentionality to adjust to the winter season.

In this series, we take a look at how some of the most inspiring athletes and wellness experts welcome winter. It takes more than just willpower to adapt to this season, and each person has their own tips, rituals and philosophies to keep up with their goals while still finding time for enjoyment. Get inspired by the mental, physical and emotional approaches these seasoned winter veterans take to make the most of this winter.

About Mark

Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, Mark Abma is a professional big mountain skier known for his smooth, aggressive style and outgoing personality. He has filmed with Matchstick Productions every year since 2003, as well as appearing in several Warren Miller and Poor Boyz films. Today you can find Mark on the slopes, working on projects or spending time with family  taking HANAH along to fuel his adventures.

Welcoming winter

Mark Abma welcomes winter as soon as he sees snow on top of the mountains. That first glimpse of white powder peaks is his queue — it’s time to level up his focus. Juggling skiing, training, family life, businesses and projects requires him to fuel properly, train hard and prioritize intentionally.

As with many professional winter sport athletes, the season ignites a zeal to go longer, harder and better. For Mark, that means dedicating more time to yoga and training, maintaining a clean diet for energy and practicing Whim Hof breathing technique and meditation.

“I need to really buckle down and get my body ready to go.”

Mark approaches his preparation for winter from the chemical and cellular level. Using Whim Hof, cold therapy, lactic training and replenishing with adaptogens proves to be the ideal combination for optimizing his winter. Before training, he completes a few Whim Hof breathing cycles to oxygenate his body. The breathing cycles help to stimulate the whole energy system which energetically fires up the whole body: “The more often you have movement, the greater capacity your muscles have to function,” Mark says.

Another more intense training tactic Mark employs in winter is to build up his lactic acid threshold. In short, lactic training forces you to push yourself to the physical extreme — sometimes until you feel like you might throw up. Mark says that this type of training helps him with “those big pushes to get to the top of that peak or go longer on ski tours.” Mark also finds it beneficial to utilize a trainer to give him an extra push and to hold him accountable during these intense workout sessions. In order to help flush out the lactic acid, he adds in cold plunges and maintains his foundation of a clean diet.

Mark understands that there’s more to winter training than an intense physical regimen and he emphasizes the importance of the nutrients and foods he puts in his body. Pushing the body to its limits causes a plethora of chemical and hormonal changes that can threaten to throw the body off balance.

“As I’m pushing myself, it's important to keep feeding myself with all these beautiful superfoods to take care of my body at the chemical level.”

Superfoods like HANAH Ashwagandha+ and Cordyceps+ keep Mark thriving in winter rather than just surviving. Making sure that his body is equipped to handle and recover for the stresses of an intense routine allows him to train hard while maintaining enough energy for his other responsibilities such as taking his kids to school, running his business or working on winter projects. One of those projects is reaching the peak of Mount Garibaldi from sea level — a potentially active volcano in British Columbia.The trek would consist of about 2 hours of biking from Mark’s home, 6 hours of skiing to the base of the mountain and then bootpacking for 2 hours to the peak.

Although not all of us are aiming to climb a volcano or build up our lactic acid threshold, Mark’s approach to winter shows some tactics and biohacks we might not have considered, such as cold plunges, Whim Hof breathing or paying attention to our body’s chemical composition. If Mark’s success in the world of skiing is any indication, this holistic and sometimes intense take on welcoming winter could be a serious game changer in working towards your winter goals.

Photos by: Eric Berger

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